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2 December 2021

November 2021 Newsletter – Migrant Data Rights – A Government Misdirection

A public consultation Data: A New Direction’ was launched last month with immense changes proposed that will undoubtedly undermine equal opportunities and lead to further discrimination for migrants. We are currently working on our consultation response to highlight how harmful we believe these proposals to be. 

First and foremost, the new plans propose to impose a fee to make a request to access personal data. This additional expense only creates further barriers and will dissuade migrants from exercising their rights. Even if a migrant (or anyone) were able to pay to access their personal data, the request may still be refused. This essentially enables the government to reintroduce the illegal Immigration Exemption on accessing migrant data. Before the Immigration Exemption was found to be unlawful, it prevented migrants from accessing their data to identify how their data was being used for assessing their eligibility for life necessities, such as jobs, housing, credit, and public benefits. 

The plans also include scrapping the obligation for human reviews for algorithmic decisions, reducing workers’ safeguards and has the ability to lead to work-related abuses, such as union busting, wage theft, and discriminatory practices. Under judicial review, the Home Office’s racist algorithm that sorted visa applications was found to be unlawful. The government’s plans will essentially allow these types of automated decisions to resume without human review. Further, the relationship of the National Fraud Initiative with the ‘Hostile Environment’ would enable moment-by-moment monitoring of migrants activities with information obtained via credit history, utility, employment, housing, data brokers, and criminal records. 

Past (and ongoing) examples of abhorrent data misuse is evident in the case of the Highly Skilled Migrant Group or with the Windrush scandal. GDPR protects human rights in this digital age and it empowers migrants to understand how their data is being used. In the climate of fear that already exists for migrants due to existing immigration enforcement measures, we fear this will only further marginalise migrant communities.

Click here to read more of this month’s enewsletter including: Understanding the ‘Hostile Environment’ on campus, events and sector vacancies!