Territorial and Digital Borders and Migrant Vulnerability Under a Pandemic Crisis

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People on the move are often left out of conversations around technological development and become guinea pigs for testing new surveillance tools before bringing them to the wider population. These experiments range from big data predictions about population movements in humanitarian crises to automated decision-making in immigration and refugee applications to AI lie detectors at European airports. The Covid-19 pandemic has seen an increase of technological solutions presented as viable ways to stop its spread. Governments’ move toward biosurveillance has increased tracking, automated drones, and other technologies that purport to manage migration. However, refugees and people crossing borders are disproportionately targeted, with far-reaching impacts on various human rights. Drawing on interviews with affected communities in Belgium and Greece in 2020, this chapter explores how technological experiments on refugees are often discriminatory, breach privacy, and endanger lives. Lack of regulation of such technological experimentation and a pre-existing opaque decision-making ecosystem creates a governance gap that leaves room for far-reaching human rights impacts in this time of exception, with private sector interest setting the agenda. Blanket technological solutions do not address the root causes of displacement, forced migration, and economic inequality – all factors exacerbating the vulnerabilities communities on the move face in these pandemic times.




Molnar, P. (2022). Territorial and Digital Borders and Migrant Vulnerability Under a Pandemic Crisis. In IMISCOE Research Series (pp. 45–64). Springer Science and Business Media B.V. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-81210-2_3

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