Wednesday, May 22, 2024

In a new research briefing released today, Amnesty International documents extensively the ways in which technology contributes to the growing trend of human rights violations at borders and urges that states stop using such technologies until they can ensure their use does not violate  human rights.

The briefing, The Digital Border: Migration, Technology, and Inequality, outlines how the use of new technologies by both state and non-state actors in migration systems across the world increases the likelihood that the human rights of people on the move—including the rights to privacy, non-discrimination, equality, and to seek asylum—will be violated.

“The protection of human rights must not be sacrificed for the sake of private profit,” said Eliza Aspen, fellow with Amnesty International. “States don’t have an obligation to private companies, but they do have an obligation to ensure that state and non-state actors alike respect the human rights of people on the move.”

The technologies also exacerbate underlying racial, economic, and social inequalities at borders and beyond. Migrant workers and others with insecure citizenship status are often subject to the same forms of digitally enabled surveillance, monitoring, and exploitation as asylum seekers and refugees, and are similarly targeted by these technologies because of their inability to opt out or seek redress from harm.

According to the briefing, many of the digital tools being used in the processing of movement of persons are developed, sold, and deployed by private companies, whose business models are often rooted in the extraction and accumulation of data for profit.

The invasive nature of these technologies has serious ramifications for the wellbeing of people crossing borders to seek safety and the ability to exercise their right to seek asylum. Data intensive technologies used at and around borders, such as military-grade biometric sensors and drone surveillance, can perpetuate further harm for displaced populations, who are already at high risk of exploitation and marginalization as a result of crossing borders to escape dangerous circumstances at home.

“Governments around the world must work to rein in unregulated development and deployment of harmful technologies and fulfil their obligations under international human rights law to protect the rights of refugees and migrants,” Aspen said. “Companies that develop these technologies must incorporate safeguards into their use and conduct human rights due diligence and data impact assessments in advance of their deployment, not after abuses have already been committed.”

The briefing follows a report released by Amnesty earlier this month on the use of the CBP One mobile application, which has also been shown to perpetuate abuses against people seeking asylum in the United States.

Amnesty International calls on states and companies to address systemic racism in their border management tactics, and to halt the development of any invasive technology that puts people at risk.

Tags: Global, Human Right, DDHH.