Today the House of Commons is likely to pass a Data Protection Bill. The Bill includes an immigration exemption that denies people access to their data exactly when they need it the most. The Open Rights Group and the3million are launching a legal challenge to force the Government to remove this exemption, and are asking for support to fund this claim.
This exemption will affect everyone involved in an immigration case, for example: those seeking refuge in the UK, those affected by the Windrush scandal, the three million EU citizens who will have to submit their applications for a new immigration status after Brexit. If this Bill becomes law, people won’t have the right to access their personal data held by the Home Office.
According to the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the Home Office has a ten percent error rate in immigration status checks. This exemption would allow these mistakes to go unchallenged. These errors could lead to an application being refused or even deportation.
We are asking people to pledge to support our legal case against the Government so everyone can have equal access to their data and properly access justice.
To support our legal challenge we are fundraising via Crowdjustice:
Jim Killock Executive Director of Open Rights Group said
“People will need their personal records to prove that they are entitled to live in the UK. This is a matter of natural justice. Using medical and educational records to trawl for potential suspects is equally worrying, as the government seeks to surveil the population in every way it finds convenient. Mistakes will be made, and lives disrupted or worse.”
Co-founder of the3million Nicolas Hatton said:
"The Data Protection Bill is supposed to be about giving people greater control over their data, but it contains an exemption for immigration cases that does exactly the opposite. Everyone should be entitled to know how the Home Office and other government agencies are using their records, and that is why the3million support removing this shocking exemption."
Rosa Curling, a human rights solicitor from law firm Leigh Day who are acting on behalf of the3million and ORG, said:
“The immigration exemption creates a discriminatory two-tier system for data protection rights. The clause is incompatible with GDPR, as well as EU law generally and the European Convention on Human Rights. If the exemption is made law, our clients will apply for judicial review. They have spent months trying to persuade the government to remove the exemption from the bill. If they continue to refuse, our clients will have no option but to request the court’s intervention in this matter.”