Imagine this: It's April 2019, and hundreds of thousands of EU citizens are starting to apply for settled status.
Some are lucky, others are not so lucky and get refused based on an error by the Home Office (the current error rate stands at 10%). These EU citizens start to appeal, but because MPs have passed the Data Protection Bill with an exemption for immigration data, they are not allowed to see the information the Home Office holds about them, and therefore have no way of proving the Home Office's error. Then come the enforcers...
The Data Protection Bill is supposed to give us greater control over our data. Yet it contains an Immigration Exemption that does precisely the opposite, by denying people access to their data when they need it most.
This exemption effectively removes individuals’ right to data protection if it's likely to prejudice “effective immigration control" and will apply to all third country nationals, including the three million EU citizens living in the UK.
If the bill becomes law, the3million and the Open Rigths Group will challenge the Government in court to remove this exemption (see the letter we sent to the Government in Publications) because:
1. Administrative errors happen all the time in immigration cases. Without access to personal data and due process, people will have no way to stop a typo from turning their lives upside down.
2. The government is proposing a new application scheme for EU citizens in the UK, requiring them to apply for a new immigration status (settled status).
We don’t yet know how many people this will affect, but we do know the Home Office is setting up a digital database system to handle this process, containing personal information of about 3 million EU citizens living in the UK.
Not having access to our data means we won't be able to defend ourselves adequately in case of errors or maladministration leading to a refusal or a deportation.
Please write to you MP so access to data is maintained for all UK residents, irrespective of where they came from or where they were born.