Migrant Family Action statement on draft data protection laws.

We are troubled at a clause in the draft data protection bill currently working its way through to become law. A few, simple words, we believe, could have sweeping implications not only for migrants, but for wider communities. The clause is an immigration exemption and allows organisations processing data to effectively forget data protection for the purposes of immigration control. 

The safety of our data is important After all, when thinking about much data protection evolution over the past 30 years or so, informed consent and being in control of your data and who it is shared with have been fundamental to data protection policies and legislation. This, we believe will create different rights for different people and given the ineffective targeting of other "effective immigration control" priorities, has the potential to have ramifications on the data of a wider range of people. 

We believe that this is yet another element of the growing hostile environment targeting migrants (and catching many others in the process). Providing yet more concern for those who need advice in matters of welfare and immigration to access the right support, concerned for where that data might go. 

As a collective of children's practitioners we are most concerned about the implications this may have for children of those with irregular status. We are concerned that this very obvious attempt to collect data will have the opposite effect, having the potential to drive people away from services such as schools, healthcare and children's services for fear of being reporting. This has the potential to create additional safeguarding risks for an already highly marginalised and often vulnerable group of young people. We are worried that this could create a larger group of marginalised young people through fear of accessing services and fear of having their data shared. 

We see this as an attack of many fronts. There has already been a distinct and thorough analysis with regards to the ECHR and data protection laws. Viewing this through the lens of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child. Article 2 clearly states that children have a right of protection against discrimination. It is interesting to consider the indirect discrimination of such a policy, judging by the distinct racial elements contained within many other hostile environment policies that disproportionately affect black and ethnic minority communities. Article 16 of the UNCRC gives children a certain right to privacy, to know what is being held about them and who it is being shared with. 

If our concerns about access to services become a reality as a result of such a policy, there are a raft of other UNCRC considerations including a right to education, right to be healthy, to have access to medical care and health information and in terms of support for children who are poor or in need. 

Overall, we are troubled by this needless and arbitrary removal of core rights to personal information be held about us. We are worried that left in, this will not only disproportionately affect black and ethnic minority communities, but is likely to have a significant impact on many others. Key to support is a trusting relationship and these laws have the potential to push many migrant families away from support and universal services - Through fear, uncertainty and a lack of trust. 

What can you do? 

Liberty have launched an online campaign that means you can email your MP about the proposed legislation and ask them to take action