“Immigration exemption” ruled unlawful under GDPR

When the “immigration exemption” became law as part of the 2018 Data Protection Act, it threatened the data rights of all UK residents, including British citizens. Open Rights Group and the3million responded by taking the Government to court.

We argued before the UK High Court that the exemption, used by the Home Office to deny people access to their personal data, is far too broad and imprecise. Administrative errors are notoriously common in immigration cases, but if residents can’t access their own data they’ll have little chance of overturning mistakes.

In October 2019 the judge ruled against our challenge, but we succeeded in pushing the Home Office to reveal it used the exemption in 60% of immigration-related requests for data. The Home Office also pledged to inform all future data subjects whenever they use the exemption. 

Victory on appeal!

With the help of our supporters, funding for an appeal was raised and on 26 May 2021 the court of appeal unanimously found that the UK immigration exemption is incompatible with Article 23 of the GDPR.

Our work on the immigration exemption has led to the new Immigration, Data and Technology project.

The Story So Far

Europe cannot rubber stamp the UK’s data laws

The United Kingdom is currently awaiting a decision from Europe on whether it provides adequate standards of data protection.
Read more

Data & Immigration update – February newsletter

Welcome to the second edition of Immigration, Data and Technology!
Read more

Immigration sector privacy concerns

As part of ORG’s work in the area of immigration we have consulted 30 organisations on their priorities and needs.
Read more

What is at stake with the immigration exemption legal challenge?

The immigration exemption in the Data Protection Act 2018 will remove key data protection rights for everyone in the United Kingdom.
Read more

The Data Protection Bill’s Immigration Exemption must go

The government has introduced a sweeping “immigration exemption” in Schedule 2, Paragraph 4.
Read more

More Information

Press Releases