Data and new technologies, the hidden face of mobility control

Brief Migreurop #12 - December 2020

In a July 2020 report, the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-Lisa) presented artificial intelligence as a “priority technology”. The report underlines the advantages of artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of migration and borders thanks, amongst other things, to facial recognition technology.

AI is increasingly privileged by public actors, EU institutions and private actors, but also by the UNHCR and IOM. EU agencies like Frontex and eu-Lisa are particularly active in experimenting with new technologies, increasingly scrambling the distinction between development and implementation. Besides traditional surveillance tools, a panoply of technologies is now deployed at the borders of Europe and beyond: the addition of new databases, innovative financial technologies, or simply the gathering by ‘Big Tech’ of data given voluntarily – or not – by migrants and refugees during their journeys.

The COVID-19 pandemic has arrived at the right time to give new impetus to an established course of action, making it possible to test or to generalise technologies used for the control of mobility without taking into account the rights of exiles. The IOM, for example, has put its ‘Displacement Tracking Matrix’ at the disposal of states during this period with the aim of controlling migratory flows. New technologies at the service of old obsessions…

[Editorial - Extract]

Contributors : Claudia Aradau (King’s College, London), Emmanuel Blanchard (GISTI), Filippo Furri (researcher, Migreurop), Anna Sibley (Migreurop co-coordinator), Martina Tazzioli (Goldsmiths, University of London), Claire Rodier (GISTI, Migreurop).
Map : Nicolas Lambert (RIATE, CNRS)
Photography : Francesco Bellina