Today, EFF joins more than 25 civil society organizations to launch the Coalition #MigrarSinVigilancia ("To Migrate Without Surveillance"). The Latin American coalition’s aim is to oppose arbitrary and indiscriminate surveillance affecting migrants across the region, and to push for the protection of human rights by safeguarding migrants' privacy and personal data.

On this International Migrants Day (December 18), we join forces with a key group of digital rights and frontline humanitarian organizations to coordinate actions and share resources in pursuit of this significant goal.

Governments increasingly use technologies to monitor migrants, asylum seekers, and others moving across borders with growing frequency and intensity. This intensive surveillance is often framed within the concept of "smart borders" as a more humanitarian approach to address and streamline border management, even though its implementation often negatively impacts the migrant population.

EFF has been documenting the magnitude and breadth of such surveillance apparatus, as well as how it grows and impacts communities at the border. We have fought in courts against the arbitrariness of border searches in the U.S. and called out the inherent dangers of amassing migrants' genetic data in law enforcement databases.  

The coalition we launch today stresses that the lack of transparency in surveillance practices and regional government collaboration violates human rights. This opacity is intertwined with the absence of effective safeguards for migrants to know and decide crucial aspects of how authorities collect and process their data.

The Coalition calls on all states in the Americas, as well as companies and organizations providing them with technologies and services for cross-border monitoring, to take several actions:

  1. Safeguard the human rights of migrants, including but not limited to the rights to migrate and seek asylum, the right to not be separated from their families, due process of law, and consent, by protecting their personal data.
  2. Recognize the mental, emotional, and legal impact that surveillance has on migrants and other people on the move.
  3. Ensure human rights safeguards for monitoring and supervising technologies for migration control.
  4. Conduct a human rights impact assessment of already implemented technologies for migration control.
  5. Refrain from using or prohibit technologies for migration control that present inherent or serious human rights harms.
  6. Strengthen efforts to achieve effective remedies for abuses, accountability, and transparency by authorities and the private sector.

We invite you to learn more about the Coalition #MigrarSinVigilancia and the work of the organizations involved, and to stand with us to safeguard data privacy rights of migrants and asylum seekers—rights that are crucial for their ability to safely build new futures.