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Civil society alarmed by migrant biometrics and surveillance in EU, Americas

Civil society alarmed by migrant biometrics and surveillance in EU, Americas

Advanced technologies are being used at the EU border for widespread surveillance and to carry out what Euronews reports are illegal ejections known as “pushbacks.”

Civil society groups tell the publication that national border authorities and European agency Frontex operate with impunity.

A Frontex delegation visited the NESTOR consortium in Greece during March to observe the final demonstration of a border surveillance system using mixed-reality glasses, unmanned submarines, 3D radar, 360-degree cameras and more.

On the other side of the world, dozens of civil society groups, including Access Now, are calling for the non-binding agreements used to exchange biometrics and other data of Latin American migrants to be cancelled.

The agreements are between the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the United States. Though non-binding, the agreements can only be ended with a notice of termination.

The groups called for a prohibition on the processing of migrants’ personal data, the use of predictive technologies, geolocation systems, and automated decision-making systems. They want the number of agencies granted access to migrants’ data to be limited, special protection for children and adolescents, and informed consent and other data rights for people whose biometrics are being collected.

“The scope of these agreements is broad and vague, which enables authorities to collect and exchange migrants’ biometric data at their discretion,” says Ángela Alarcón, Latin America and the Caribbean Campaigner at Access Now. “This gives rise to abusive surveillance of migrants and potential arbitrary decision-making about their migratory future.”

“The current use of mass surveillance technologies jeopardizes the lives of immigrants,” says Santiago Narváez, research activist at Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, in a statement. “The lack of transparency in these practices in our countries hinders the detection of arbitrary and illegal use. These abuses are carried out with impunity.”

The U.S. continues to lean on biometrics and advanced technologies as it struggles to deal with the influx of migrants at its southern border.

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