The UK Home office has come under fire for forcing migrants released on bail to wear GPS tracking devices.
Previously, the Home office used radio frequency monitors, which alerts authorities if an individual leaves an assigned area. But the new GPS devices can track a person’s every move. It can also collect, store and access this data indefinitely via a private contractor.
The move is part of implementing the Immigration Act of 2016, which includes a clause for electronically monitoring people subject to a deportation order or proceedings, including those granted immigration bail.
Human Rights organizations have decried the new policy as a gross invasion of privacy.
“This is effectively an extension of immigration detention beyond the physical walls of the detention centres and prisons,” writes Rudy Schulkind at Bail for Immigration Detainees. “This regressive and authoritarian policy is wholly inappropriate in a country that claims to uphold the right to liberty. It is no wonder the government did not formally announce it and has tried to evade scrutiny,” said Schulkind in the open letter.
“The Tories’ plan to introduce 24/7 GPs tracking for bailed immigration detainees is a Trojan horse which would grant the Home Office expansive new surveillance powers which would extend well beyond their stated purpose,” Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on immigration detention, said per The Guardian.
“[It] sends a clear signal that the hostile environment is here to stay and gives us a glimpse of the new authoritarianism driving this government forward.”
The UK is not the only country to used such methods to track foreign migrants.
In 2019, ICE made headlines after it was revealed they placed an ankle monitor on a woman released from its detention. Unsealed search warrants from the raid revealed that immigration authorities tracked GPS data from dozens of undocumented immigrants with ankle monitors. The data harvested from her monitor was used to target raids on her workplace at a food processing plant, and six others led to the arrests of nearly 700 people.