The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has issued an Enforcement Notice against the Home Office, over its use of GPS tagging on asylum seekers that have arrived through irregular routes. 

The decision is a result of a complaint lodged by Privacy International, which included the testimonies of BID clients who had been tagged. These testimonies highlighted the debilitating effects of GPS tagging, including its effects on family life, mental and physical health and social isolation. 

Read our report here, which further expands on the harms of GPS tagging. 

In November 2020, it became mandatory for the Home Office to GPS tag migrants released under immigration bail, subjecting them to 24/7  surveillance. A practice that has only continued to grow and expand despite its negative effects. 

This growth of GPS tagging continued through the Home Office's 12-month 'Expansion Pilot' which aimed to GPS tag all asylum claimants who arrive in the UK via irregular routes. The pilot was further extended for another 6 months, because (and despite the fact) it did not deliver sufficient evidence. 

It was this Expansion Pilot that the ICO found unlawful as it did not comply with data protection laws including in the following ways: 

  • The Home Office failed to sufficiently asses the privacy intrusion of the continuous collection of people's location information 
  • They failed to assess the potential impact on people who maybe in vulnerable positions and that the Home Office failed to sufficiently consider measures to mitigate such risks. 
  • They failed to provide clear and easily accessible information to the people being tagged about what personal information is being collected. 

The decision is a powerful reminder that migrants have the same rights as UK citizens, and hostile attempts to attack their dignity and liberty will not be unchallenged. 

It delivers a decisive blow against the whole GPS tagging scheme. A practice we will continue to challenge. It is time to throw the whole scheme out.

Join our campaign to end this horrific practice and email your MP now.

Email your MP

Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) is a registered Charity No. 1077187. Registered in England as a Limited Company No. 03803669. Accredited by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner Ref. No. N200100147. We are a member of the Fundraising Regulator, committed to best practice in fundraising and follow the standards for fundraising as set out in the Code of Fundraising Practice.
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