New reports explore migration, racism and digital technologies

Three recent reports take a close look at the ways in which the increasing use of digital technologies in migration management and border control can compound existing forms of discrimination and inequality, at the same time as creating and contributing to new types of discrimination.


Technological Testing Grounds: Border tech is experimenting with people’s lives (EDRi, link):

"The European Union is increasingly experimenting with high risk migration management technologies.

Much of this innovation occurs without adequate governance mechanisms and does not account for the very real impacts on people’s rights and lives.

A new report published by Mozilla fellow Petra Molnar for EDRi, “Technological Testing Grounds,” is based on over 40 conversations with refugees and people on the move and shows that much of this innovation occurs without adequate governance mechanisms and does not account for the very real impacts on people’s rights and lives."

Report: Technological Testing Grounds: Migration Management Experiments and Reflections from the Ground Up (EDRi, link to pdf)

  1. Introduction
  2. Recommendations
  3. A Note on Methodology and Terminology
  4. Ecosystem of Migration Management Technologies
  5. What About Human Rights?
  6. The Panopticon of Migration Control Technologies
  7. References

The report comes at the same time as two publications by the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance that deal with similar issues.

The first provides a human rights analysis of intersectional forms of discrimination; the second focuses in more detail on how digital technologies can cause and reinforce those forms of discrimination.

Statewatch, along with Privacy International and R3D, submitted a contribution to the Special Rapporteur to inform the second report.

Racial discrimination and emerging digital technologies: a human rights analysis (pdf):

"In the present report, the Special Rapporteur aims to advance analogously robust analysis at the intersection of emerging digital technologies and racial equality and non-discrimination principles under international human rights law.

...In the present report, the Special Rapporteur highlights intersectional forms of discrimination, including on the basis of gender and religion, and calls attention to the ongoing failure of States and other stakeholders to track and address compounded forms of discrimination at the intersections among race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, sexual orientation and related grounds."

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Drivers of discrimination and inequality in emerging digital technologies
  3. Examples of racial discrimination in the design and use of emerging digital technologies
    1. Explicit intolerance and prejudice-motivated conduct
    2. Direct or indirect discriminatory design/use of emerging digital technology
    3. Racially discriminatory structures
  4. A structural and intersectional human rights law approach to racial discrimination in the design and use of emerging digital technologies: analysis and recommendations
    1. Scope of legally prohibited racial discrimination in the design and use of emerging digital technologies
    2. Obligations to prevent and combat racial discrimination in the design and use of emerging digital technologies
    3. Obligations to provide effective remedies for racial discrimination in the design and use of emerging digital technologies

And: follow-up report (pdf), looking in more detail at the racially discriminatory impacts of new and emerging technologies on migrants, refugees and other non-citizens:

"As this report highlights, governments and non-state actors are developing and deploying emerging digital technologies in ways that are uniquely experimental, dangerous, and discriminatory in the border and immigration enforcement context. By so doing, they are subjecting refugees, migrants, stateless persons and others to human rights violations, and extracting large quantities of data from them on exploitative terms that strip these groups of fundamental human agency and dignity. Although the focus of this report is relatively recent technological innovations, many of these technologies have historical antecedents in colonial technologies of racialized governance, including through migration controls. Not only is technology not neutral, but its design and use typically reinforce dominant social, political and economic trends."

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Rise of Digital Borders
  3. Mapping Racial and Xenophobic Discrimination in Digital Border and Immigration Enforcement
    1. Direct and Indirect Discrimination
      1. Online platforms
      2. Racial Profiling
      3. Mandatory biometric data collection, digital identification systems, and exclusion from basic services
      4. Language Recognition
      5. Mobile Data Extraction and Social Media Intelligence on Migrant and Refugee Populations
    2. Discriminatory Structures
      1. Surveillance Humanitarianism and Surveillance Asylum
      2. Technological Experimentation
      3. Border externalization
      4. Immigration Surveillance
  4. Recommendations

 

 

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