Legal proceedings to start following EU citizens’ immigration data access controversy

EU citizens have to launch a legal case against a law which stops people from gaining access to immigration data held on them by the Home Office and other government organisations.

A campaign group named the3million has now been granted a judicial review against the government regarding an element of the Data Protection Act 2018; the group represents UK-based EU citizens as well as the Open Rights Group.

In its current state, the Data Protection Act holds an immigration exemption act which stops immigrants from getting hold of the personal data held on them by the Home Office. The same applies to a number of other state bodies and companies directly linked with controlling the numbers of individuals seeking refuge in Britain, the Independent reports.

The High Court has now ruled that the groups can launch a judicial review against the government, enabling the3million to directly challenge the law as it stands, instead claiming that the exemptions do not provide for compliance with the GDPR’s regulations.

The current political landscape throws the issue into sharp relief, as “settled status” will have to be applied for by EU citizens aiming to stay on as residents in the UK following the implementation of Brexit.

The right to access personal data is, the3million maintains, essential to ensure that any mistakes made by the Home Office could be adequately challenged so that people are not unlawfully deported in future.

Mistakes have been made in the past – just last year the chief inspector of borders and immigration discovered that the Home Office had not correctly conducted immigration status checks in ten percent of instances.

The Law Society said that “clear evidence” exists of “serious flaws” in the department’s approach, following the startling 50% overturn rate of appealed cases.

Speaking on behalf of the3million, Nicolas Hatton said:

“If over three million EU citizens are going to apply for settled status, they must be able to do so knowing it’s safe for them to do it, with the right to see what the Home Office is doing with their data,” said Nicolas Hatton, before asserting his confidence that the case against the government would be successful.

Speaking on behalf of the Open Rights Group, Matthew Rice said:

“This is about more than those undergoing the settled status checks. This challenge is for anyone and everyone that is going through, or is connected to someone going through, the immigration process. This blunt instrument poses a huge threat to the right to privacy, it is time for it to go once and for all.”

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