Privacy organisation criticizes Government over failure to protect the safety and privacy of Ukrainian Refugees 

Embargo: Immediate

A BBC investigation has revealed that the government’s re-settlement scheme for Ukrainian refugees puts vulnerable people at risk of serious harm from people traffickers and others. 

The scheme forces the public to self-organise matches of hosts and refugees before a UK host can register. It was entirely foreseeable that people would turn to social media platforms, like Facebook, to facilitate this. These platforms leave refugees’ data open to predators. 

Open Rights Group has written to the government to express our concerns about the safety of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. We are asking urgently for disclosure of the impact assessments that were conducted and explanation as to the decisions taken in designing this scheme. 

The government has failed to protect the privacy of refugees, and is failing to keep them safe. 

Meg Foulkes, Head of Policy and Litigation at Open Rights Group said:

“The government has responsibility for ensuring the settlement process offered is entirely safe, from beginning to end. Matching hosts and sponsors is obviously part of the settlement process and should be organised by the government, not on social media. 

“The Homes for Ukraine scheme is another example of government incompetency or, in the alternative, deliberate disregard for the well-being of vulnerable people fleeing war.

“The government left a significant part of the data processing to third parties, including Meta and Palantir. We can have no trust in the ability of these companies to effectively regulate users and/or content. The government should not have forced refugees to offer up their details to these companies.”


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Notes to Editor
[1] See [link to BBC]
[2] Text of the letter is available on request.