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Gender, Technology and Law: Immigration, Iris-Scanning, and iBorderCTRL: The Human Rights Impacts of Migration Control Technologies

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The 5th session of the Gender, Technology & Law series, co-organised by LSTS and FRC, under the title: “Immigration, Iris-Scanning, and iBorderCTRL: The Human Rights Impacts of Migration Control Technologies”, will take place on 27.10.2020 at 12:00-13:30 and will be animated by Petra Molnar from the University of Toronto.

Mandatory detention of migrants at the US-Mexico border. The wrongful deportation of 7,000 foreign students accused of cheating on a language test. Racist or sexist discrimination based on social media profiles. What do these examples have in common? In every case, an algorithm made a decision with serious consequences for people’s lives. Over 70 million people are currently on the move due to conflict, instability, environmental factors, and economic reasons and the situation in the Mediterranean is worsening. As a result, states and international organizations involved in migration management are exploring various automated decision-making experiments to increase efficiency and support border security. These experiments range from big data predictions about population movements in the Mediterranean, to Canada’s use of automated decision-making in immigration and refugee applications, to AI lie detectorsdeployed at European borders. However, these technologies are developed with little oversight, transparency, and accountability and often fail to account for the far-reaching impacts on human lives and human rights, resulting in potentially serious breaches of human rights and civil liberties. This presentation draws on my work in Canada and explores our current project highlighting the lived experiences of people on the move as they are impacted by this technological experimentation.

Petra Molnar is a lawyer specializing in migration and human rights law. She is the Acting Director of the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (IHRP) and the co-author of “Bots at the Gate: A Human Rights Analysis of Automated Decision-Making in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee System” with the Citizen Lab. She expanded on this work while at the University of Cambridge and is a current Mozilla Open Web Fellow working with the European Digital Rights Institute (EDRi) on the human rights impacts of migration management technologies.