UN report says border surveillance technology and decision algorithms may endanger human rights


While the report acknowledged that digital technologies aid states in achieving security objectives, it also alleged that digital technologies result in the manifestation and exacerbation of human rights issues. The report said that digital technology, including video surveillance systems and towers, used by many states at land and maritime borders, may be a risk to human rights because they prevent border crossings rather than providing support for migrants and asylum seekers. Digital technologies, for example, may increase the risk of human rights violations because migrants might avoid areas with surveillance systems out of fear. It may be biased if officers rely on the results of algorithmic risk assessment. In order to protect the human rights of migrants, the report suggests that states adopt a human-rights-based migration approach. The report recommends that states conduct and publish an impact assessment on their proposed digital border technology to ensure that it complies with human rights obligations. It also suggests that they refrain from using digital border technologies which are detrimental to protecting human rights. Fionnuala O’Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur for the Promotion of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Counter-Terrorism wrote in March that digital technologies used to combat terrorism are a major cause of human rights violations worldwide. The UN Human Rights Office also stated this year that the surveillance technologies used in Southeast Asia were subject to abuse online.