Could immigration clause eliminate data rights?
There are fears that plans to suspend data protection for immigration enforcement could have significant ramifications for the entire UK population. The exemption has been proposed to suspend regulations during immigration checks. Campaigners including Liberty have described the clause, which is set to be part of the new Data Protection Bill as “unlawful” and “worryingly broad”.
If the exemption is officially introduced, a number of General Data Protection Regulations won’t be applied when certain information is processed. The Government says the clause is being brought in to assist with the “maintenance of effective immigration control”.
The new bill means people will no longer have the right to erase information that has been collected about them, and they won’t be able to find out why or what information has been collected. If an asylum application is denied, those that wish to appeal could be unable to access the information that they need to . Data protection experts are warning that this could result in people being wrongfully deported.
There are also worries that British people could be affected by the clause. For instance, people may no longer be able to find out why their bank accounts have been frozen. The clause has been described as a “get out of jail free card” for the Government, and there are concerns that the exemption marks a move towards a “secret police state”.
Errors made by the Home Office
There have been various examples of errors in migration cases handled by the Home Office over recent years. Only recently, 100 letters were produced which wrongfully told EU nationals they could be deported. The Home Office has argued that the clause would only be used if there was a “real likelihood” that immigration control would be compromised. One spokesman said the Home Office would aim to strike a balance between data protection and “the wider interests of society”.
The Government has been expanding its so-called “hostile environment” policy. The policy includes a number of measures designed to make remaining in the UK intolerable for those not permitted to stay in the country, with the aim of forcing them to leave. The Data Protection Bill will be reviewed today (Monday 11th December).
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