Newsletter: Migrant Digital Justice


We’re in the month of Spring, the season of new beginnings and we have a new name and start for our migration work. Our new name “Migrant Digital Justice Programme” better reflects our justice-based approach to defending and protecting migrants’ digital rights. Whilst data can help society’s most vulnerable, it can also harm. The Migrant Digital Justice Programme exists to ensure that migrants who have faced discrimination at the hands of big data and tech are able to access justice – a fundamental human right. 

News round-up

At the end of last year, all our efforts were focused on drawing attention to the likely impact of the Government’s proposals to reform the UK’s data protection regime. We launched our Stop Data Discrimination Campaign to raise awareness and understanding of how the proposals detailed in “Data: a new direction” will harm and discriminate against migrants and other groups in society that are vulnerable and marginalised.

We were pleased that many of you felt compelled to respond to the “Data: a new direction” consultation after attending our event for migrants’ rights organisations and parliamentarians and included examples from your own work of how data and tech are negatively impacting the lives of migrants increasing their vulnerability. We’re now moving into the second phase of the campaign which you can read more about below.

We’ve had a busy start to the year! In January, we joined with Privacy International and other civil society organisations to write to the UK Forensic Science Regulator. We raised concerns about the lack of quality standards and transparency with regard to digital device extractions for immigration enforcement and pushed for a review into the use of digital forensic activities by immigration officers.

At the end of February, we held our first event bringing together ORG local groups and local migrants’ rights activists. It was great to see an appetite for campaigning for digital rights in an intersectional way that acknowledges and understands how migrants are disproportionately impacted by big data and tech.

Immigration Exemption

In January, Parliament considered the Government’s proposed legislation regarding amendments to the immigration exemption. The amendments which recently came into force on 31 January fail to include the statutory safeguards demanded by the UK courts and adhere to the principles underpinning quality legislation. As a result, the rights of migrants to be able to access their data and challenge immigration decisions remains severely curtailed.

Together with the3million, we have decided to launch a fresh legal challenge and will keep you posted on developments.

Stop Data Discrimination Campaign

We’re currently in the second phase of our Stop Data Discrimination Campaign. In this phase, we’ll be writing to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to request a meeting to discuss the risks that may arise from implementing some of the proposals detailed in ‘Data: a new direction.’ We’re very keen for migrants’ rights organisations to be part of this meeting. Some of you have already expressed an interest in attending such a meeting to communicate the human impact of the proposals. We’ll be convening a pre-meeting with migrants’ rights organisations in the next week to prioritise which issues we want to raise with DCMS. If you’re organisation would like to attend and/or would like to know more, please email me at:

Tools, Publications and Resources

We’ve compiled some resources to help those working for migrants’ rights and those they support to 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!

Privacy Interntional | English Channel surveillance used to ‘deter and punish migrants’

Privacy International | How Privacy and Data Protection Law Can Help Defend Migrants’ Rights

Open Rights Group | Government Disregards Court’s Immigration Exemption Ruling

Open Rights Group | ORG response to “Data: a new direction”

Migrants’ Rights Network | Know Your Rights Guide 2020

Open Rights Group | Immigration, Data and Technology: Needs and Capacities of the Immigration Sector

Lastly, if data and digital technologies issues are arising in your work and you’d like support to address them or you’re looking to better understand and engage with these issues, please do get in touch with us. We can also signpost you to individuals and organisations who will be able to help you.

Thanks for reading! And please do share with others who may want to know more about the impact of data and technology on migrants’ rights.

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