Tracking Migrants With Drones, Biometrics and Tags

This post was originally published on DP News

Governments Consider Tech for Border Manage

By Robert Bateman

From GPS ankle labels to automated drones plus biometric surveillance, governments globally are turning to increasingly invasive technical solutions to manage immigration.

Digital Personal privacy News spoke to professionals in the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Europe, who expressed deep worry about the impact of this kind of technologies on migrants plus refugees.

“Migration control is now one of the important drivers of surveillance globally, ” said Antonella Napolitano, network coordinator at Oughout. K. -based NGO Personal privacy International.

“Some of the most sophisticated tech available is now being aimed straight at tracking migrants, cultivating a narrative that criminalizes people in a vulnerable problem, rather than protecting them, ” Napolitano told Digital Personal privacy News.

Napolitano said this increasingly specialized approach was changing the type of border management.

“Borders are not only individuals we can see. ” she mentioned, “we are witnessing a growing externalization of migration regulates with the transfer of boundary management to third nations, and digital borders, such as portals and databases, ” she said.

“Migrants are bearing the duty of the new systems and dropping agency in their migration encounter, ” Napolitano continued, “particularly when their fate has been put in the hands associated with systems driven by information processing and so-called technology innovations. ”


On Monday, a coalition of human rights organizations published an open letter towards the U. K. government, condemning a new scheme whereby GPS NAVIGATION tracking tags are used to keep track of people on immigration bail.

The human legal rights campaigners said that the new plan, which replaces an older plan that used radio-frequency labels, represents “a significant disturbance with individual liberty plus privacy. ”

“Tagging is often seen as ‘softer’ and ‘humane’ approach in comparison with physical confinement in 4 walls and restrictions enforced on liberty, ” stated Monish Bhatia, lecturer within criminology at the University associated with Birkbeck. “However, tagging by itself is equally confining. ” 

Bhatia mentioned his research among folks who had been subjected to tagging, that, he said, found the knowledge to be “dehumanizing, degrading plus debilitating, and an extension… of physical confinement. ”

Bhatia declared that the move from radio-frequency to GPS tagging gives the government “access to day to day geo-location data, ” together ”huge implications for personal privacy and human rights. ”

“The idea that private security companies plus government departments will have entry to this data should band alarm bells, ” Bhatia said.

EU-Funded Border Drones

The EUROPEAN is another region where growing technology is being used to manage migration. The bloc provides funded projects aiming to keep track of and control people trying to enter Europe via the Greek-Turkish border.  

“Violent border technologies such as long-range acoustic devices, drones, and various automated decision-making projects support an environment that is already rife with individual rights abuses, ” stated Petra Molnar, associate movie director of the Refugee Law Laboratory at York University.

Since May 2017, the EU has financed the ROBORDER (Autonomous Swarm of Heterogeneous Robots to get Border Surveillance) project, which usually aims to create “a fully-functional autonomous border surveillance system” using drones.

“Unfortunately, the EU is usually increasingly turning to the siren-call of techno-solutionism, at the cost of humane migration guidelines and practices, ” Molnar told Digital Privacy Information.

“Many of those technological interventions run the risk associated with furthering discrimination and negatively impact privacy and information protection, ” she stated.

Biometric Border Surveillance in North america

Europe has also signaled an purpose to increase the use of surveillance technologies at its borders.

On June seven, the Canadian Border Solutions Agency (CBSA) said this had an “urgent need to set up a biometrics strategy” — plus called for international companies to help its establishment of an Workplace of Biometrics and Identification Management.

Yet Sharon Polsky, president from the Privacy and Access Authorities of Canada, was suspicious that the scheme would advantage Canadians.

“Whether it is the border, or COVID, or anything else — it is a matter of ‘follow the money, ’” Polsky told Digital Personal privacy News. “Because innovation begets employment, which begets taxes dollars. ”

Polsky said public professionals were being “pushed… to consider and embrace technology — as if technology is going to be the solution to every ill that is present. So they’re moving forward using these surveillance systems and biometrics. ”

The particular CBSA invited 15 businesses, including Accenture, Deloitte, plus PriceWaterHouse Coopers, to get into bids for the contract.

“These companies possess a corporate responsibility to improve their own bottom line—not to improve your own privacy or mine, ” Polsky said.

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