Newsletter: Migrant Digital Justice


Welcome to the Autumn edition of the Migrant Digital Justice newsletter! There’s lots to share with you; so I’ll get on with it!

News round-up

Since the last newsletter, we’ve published our How to Fight Data Discrimination Toolkit, participated in the first European Digital Rights (EDRi) Colour of Surveillance Europe Conference and held a round table on the draft Online Safety Bill (OSB) for groups and organisations working with communities that are marginalised and vulnerable.

We’ve also been having conversations with several of you about the weaponisation of social media, specifically requests for social media logins and passwords to determine a child or young person’s age. 

The Conservative Party leadership election meant that a second hearing in Parliament of the draft Data Protection and Digital Information Bill has been postponed, with no date confirmed as yet to reschedule. We’re closely monitoring what Liz Truss’ government will mean for the future of data protection in the UK and will keep you all posted on the next phase of our Stop Data Discrimination campaign. 

We’re always working to strengthen our relationships with the migrants’ rights sector and this includes migrants with lived experience and expertise. As Gracie Mae Bradley noted at the launch event for our toolkit: 

To succeed at fighting the harms of certain technologies we really need to understand our history. We need to understand how state racism works … we also need to respect the expertise of people at the sharpest ends of state power and that’s something that hasn’t traditionally been the strongest suit of the digital rights sector.”

Please continue to get in touch if you require technical expertise or if we can support you in any other way, for example by collaborating on campaigns, amplifying your campaigns or resources or if you feel there’s an issue(s) we’re not looking at that we should be.

Challenge the Checks campaign

In response to the Government’s digital right to work checks, last week together with Migrants’ Rights NetworkMigrants at Work we launched the Challenge the Checks campaign. The digital right to work checks enforced by the Home Office are yet another example of the increasing digitisation of the hostile environment and it’s important that we challenge the checks that are broken and ruining lives as Migrants at Work has been documenting.

Follow ORG on Twitter for campaign updates!

Migrant Digital Justice Programme toolkit

In June, we launched our How to Fight Data Discrimination Toolkit for the migrants’ rights sector as part of Solidarity Knows No Borders Week of Action to End the Hostile Environment. The toolkit aims to deepen the support available to migrants’ rights organisations and mobilise others in the sector to fight data-driven discrimination by building and sharing knowledge of digital rights and the tools that can be used to defend and protect migrants. 

For the launch event, we were joined by Gracie Mae Bradley (policy expert and co-author of Against Border), Fizza Qureshi (CEO of Migrants’ Rights Network) and Inam Raziq (Highly Skilled Migrants Group organiser) who emphasised the need to view digital rights through a wider lens, harness strategic litigation as a tool to challenge the Government and recognise the personal impact of Government data-sharing on highly skilled migrants.

EDRi Colour of Surveillance Europe Conference

Last month, I was in Amsterdam for the first European Digital Rights (EDRi) Colour of Surveillance Europe Conference. The event brought together activists, researchers, funders, journalists and others engaged in the fields of racial justice, digital rights and anti-surveillance. A beautiful space was created for us to come together to explore key themes, issues, tensions and current organising linking these topics and to build connections.

The conference was inspired by The Color of Surveillance Conference developed by Georgetown Law and the Center for Privacy and Technology which was launched in 2016 and sought to bridge the gap between the brutality of policing for Black communities and surveillance.

Online Safety Bill round table

Last week, we held a round table bringing together organisations challenging policing and working for women’s rights and migrants’ rights to discuss the Online Safety Bill (OSB) which is currently going through Parliament. ORG are keen to gain perspectives towards nuanced policy analysis and recommended amendments for the Bill’s progression to the House of Lords.

The discussion focused on moderation of content on public social media platforms and the monitoring and surveillance of private messages on WhatsApp or Signal. We were joined by members of ORG’s Advisory Council who presented on these issues before listening to the varying concerns of different groups and their views on the Bill. 

Dr Monica Horten, ORG’s OSB policy lead recently wrote a blog about how the OSB could have the effect of suppressing public debate around immigration and create a censorship requirement on social media platforms.

Expert round table: Data Collection and Consent at the Border and Beyond 

Next month, we’ll be holding a round table on consent in data protection in the migration context. If you’re interested in participating, please get in touch.

Tools, publications and resources

We’ve compiled some resources to help those working for migrants’ rights and their clients better understand data, privacy and technology issues. Some of these have been created by ORG, some by other privacy rights organisations and others in collaboration with migrants’ rights organisations. We’re keen to add to our resource hub – if you have any resources you think might be helpful to our community, please send them to us!

The Independent | Home Office spends £90k on 3 months of social media adverts to ‘deter’ Channel migrants – but numbers rocket

The Sunday Times | Tech Nation future in doubt as Barclays wins funding

Open Rights Group | Could public debate on immigration be suppressed by the online safety bill?

Privacy International | Privacy International files complaints against GPS tagging of migrants in the UK

The Guardian | Facial recognition smartwatches to be used to monitor foreign offenders in the UK

The Network for Police Monitoring (NETPOL) | Lost in the Matrix – how police surveillance is mapping protest movements

Slate | The Colour of Surveillance

Migrants’ Rights Network | Right to Work Checks Guide