Home Office pilot that put ankle tags on migrants ‘breached data protection law’ | EUROtoday

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A Home Office pilot scheme to put ankle tags on as much as 600 migrants on immigration bail to trace their location breached UK information safety regulation, a watchdog has mentioned.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) mentioned the Home Office had didn’t sufficiently assess the dangers posed by the digital monitoring of individuals, together with the privateness considerations across the steady assortment of an individual’s location.

The information safety regulator mentioned it had now issued an enforcement discover and a warning to the Home Office over the pilot, which orders the division to replace its privateness insurance policies and warns that information assortment on an analogous foundation would spark enforcement motion by the regulator.

The pilot had been evaluating whether or not digital monitoring was an efficient approach to preserve common contact with asylum claimants, whereas decreasing the chance of absconding and providing a possible different to detention.

The ICO mentioned it had been in dialogue with the Home Office in regards to the scheme since August 2022, after considerations in regards to the pilot had been raised by Privacy International.

The pilot scheme led to December 2023, however the ICO mentioned the Home Office continues to have entry to information gathered through the trial.

Having examined the scheme, the info safety watchdog mentioned the Home Office had additionally didn’t assess the potential influence on individuals who could already be in a susceptible place due to their immigration standing, for causes such because the circumstances of their journey to the UK, or English not being their first language.

The Home Office didn’t assess these dangers sufficiently, which implies the pilot scheme was not legally compliant

Information Commissioner John Edwards

The ICO mentioned the Home Office didn’t sufficiently think about how one can mitigate towards these dangers, for instance by offering clear details about why folks’s location information was being collected and the way it could be used.

The regulator added that all through its enquiries, the Home Office had additionally been unable to adequately clarify why it was vital or proportionate to entry the info it collected.

Information Commissioner John Edwards mentioned: “Having access to a person’s 24/7 movements is highly intrusive, as it is likely to reveal a lot of information about them, including the potential to infer sensitive information such as their religion, sexuality, or health status.

“Lack of clarity on how this information will be used can also inadvertently inhibit people’s movements and freedom to take part in day-to-day activities.

“If such information were to be mishandled or misinterpreted, it could potentially have harmful consequences to people and their future.

“The Home Office did not assess those risks sufficiently, which means the pilot scheme was not legally compliant.

“We recognise the Home Office’s crucial work to keep the UK safe, and it’s for them to decide on what measures are necessary to do so.

“But I’m sending a clear warning to the Home Office that they cannot take the same approach in the future. It is our duty to uphold people’s information rights, regardless of their circumstances.”

In response, a Home Office spokesperson mentioned: “We are disappointed that the ICO has issued this notice and whilst acknowledging improvements to documentation could be made, we reject the claim that the privacy risks of the scheme weren’t sufficiently addressed.

“The pilot was designed to help us maintain contact with selected asylum claimants, deter absconding and progress asylum claims more effectively.

“We will now carefully consider the ICO’s findings and respond in due course.”

Under the enforcement discover issued, the Home Office has been ordered to replace its inside insurance policies, entry steering and privateness data in relation to information it retained from the pilot scheme.

The formal warning issued alongside the discover states that any future information processing on the identical foundation by the Home Office would breach information safety regulation and would see the ICO take enforcement motion.