Civil society call: Terminate agreements on migrants’ biometric data

Civil society demands the termination of agreements on the cross-border processing of migrants’ biometric data

Versión en español

Access Now, Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D), and over 25 civil society organizations came together to urge the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the United States to terminate the non-binding agreements between said Latin-American countries and the US, that enable cross-border transfers of biometrics and other types of data of migrants. This call for termination is grounded on the risks such exchange poses in relation to the privacy and dignity of migrants, as they are subjected to abusive surveillance during their migration.

The scope of these agreements is broad and vague, which enables authorities to collect and exchange migrants’ biometric data at their discretion,” said 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 full joint statement calls for these agreements to be terminated unless they include the necessary safeguards to ensure human rights are respected. It also provides a series of recommendations, including, among others, the prohibition of both predictive technologies in migration contexts and automated or semi-automated systems for decision-making processes, and ensuring both special protection for children and adolescents, and the rights of access, rectification, deletion, and objection for data subjects.

“The current use of mass surveillance technologies jeopardizes the lives of immigrants,” said Santiago Narváez, Research Activist at R3D. “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.”

Terminating these agreements is relatively simple, as they are non-binding and require a notice of termination to the other party. Read the full statement here.

Image credits: Gibrán Aquino – Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D)

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