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March 5, 2018

Home Office battles to prevent access to immigration data

Another bump in the road amid GDPR as Home Office battles for plans to restrict immigration data.

By April Slattery

The Home Office is expected to be challenged in court after suggesting it plans to deny millions of people the right to access immigration data.

Under the data protection bill, citizens have the right to access and withdraw their data from data centres. However, the Home Office plans to block this access for immigration data despite it being illegal.

Various organisations across the UK, which represent three million EU citizens living in the country, have written to Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, outlining that they will take action if the Home Office successfully passes the clause in the regulation.

The two groups threatening legal action include the3million and the Open Rights Group (ORG), which campaigns for privacy rights and free speech online. Both groups argue that the implementation of such plans breaches the requirements of GDPR.

Home Office battles to prevent access to immigration data

Plans to restrict immigration data access are under fire.

“Data protection is a basic safeguard to make sure you can find out what organisations know about you, and why they make decisions. Sometimes, during criminal investigations, that isn’t appropriate, but immigrants aren’t criminals, nor should they be treated as such.” Jim Killock, the ORG executive director said.

The threat of legal action have risen amid concerns that a clause preventing access to data will hinder individuals facing deportation the ability to challenge such actions happening. Additionally, if clients have no access to their data files it will prevent them from understanding why an application has been rejected and unable to challenge mistakes made by administrative representatives.

Implementing the EU’s GDPR regulation aims to give citizens more access to their own data, to allow them to have more rights over the use of it. However the Home Office’s latest plan aims to diffuse this completely, overturning the ethos of GDPR and limiting the rights individuals have of their own details.

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Nicholas Hatton, Chairman of the3million, said: “We need safeguards in place to ensure that these citizens have access to the information held about them, so they are able to appeal [against] Home Office decisions or correct mistakes. Everyone should be entitled to know how the Home Office and other government agencies are using their records, and that is why we want this exemption removed.”

The Home Office will head to parliament today to debate the bill, its implications and potential outcomes for the government department and EU citizens.

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