EU #Protect Not Surveil

EU institutions Vote to Protect the Human Rights of people on the move and migrants in the EU Artificial Intelligence Act

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The EU Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act will be the first binding legislation on AI. It was proposed by the European Commission in April 2021 and it aims at promoting ‘trustworthy AI’ and, at the same time, protecting fundamental rights. However, the proposed law was not enough to address and prevent the harms stemming from the use of AI in the migration context.

Unless the EU institutions take action, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act will enable dangerous tech in migration control and threaten everyone’s rights.

From lie detectors to scanning drones, the European Union and its partners are building a vast and powerful web of surveillance and tracking at European borders, deep inside Europe, and beyond. But this is about much more than just border control.

These technologies are tested first on people on the move¹ and racialised communities where it is harder to fight back and challenge them.

Once the tech is in place, there’s no going back - and these dangerous experiments will shape how all of us live.

If the EU AI Act fails to prevent irreversible harms in migration it will undermine its very purpose - protecting the fundamental rights of all people affected by the use of AI.

So we are calling on the European Commission, the Parliament, and Council of the EU to ban the use of experimental tech against people crossing borders and effectively regulate to ensure AI is used with safety and accountability.

¹ By people on the move, we mean migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented people. We recognise that this is an imperfect term and that not all people affected by such systems are 'on the move', and some may even have lived in the EU for a long time. However, with this term, we centre that those affected by such systems are people.

“We are Black and border guards hate us. Their computers hate us too.”

Adissu, living without immigration status in Brussels, Belgium*, quoted in EDRI report "Technological Testing Grounds”


A coalition of civil society partners developed amendment recommendations to the AI act to better protect against these harms in the migration context.

The AI ACT must be updated in four main ways:

1) Ban harmful AI practices in the migration context

Some AI systems pose an unacceptable risk to our fundamental rights, and they will never be fixed either via technical means nor with some procedural safeguards. Lawmakers must ban:

  • Predictive analytics systems used for preventing migration that will exacerbate violence at the borders and lead to push-backs;

  • Automated risk assessments and profiling systems that entrench racism and bias and erode human dignity and freedom from discrimination;

  • ‘Lie-detectors’ and all pseudo-scientific technology that claims to categorise people and infer emotions on the basis of their biometric data;

  • Remote Biometric Identification at the border and in and around detention facilities that enable mass surveillance.

2) Regulate all AI high-risk systems in migration

    Lawmakers must also ensure that the AI Act regulates any types of AI systems used in migration, especially the surveillance technology used in the context of border control and for identity checks. The EU AI Act will be an instrument of protection only if it does not leave anyone behind.

    All AI systems used in migration should be subject to oversight and accountability measures, including surveillance technology used in the context of border control and for identity checks.

3) Ensure the AI Act applies to EU’s huge migration databases

Article 83 must be amended to ensure AI as part of large-scale EU IT databases falls within the scope of the AI Act and that the necessary safeguards apply for uses of AI in the EU migration context.

4) Make the EU’s AI Act an instrument of protection

There will never be justice without a system of accountability and transparency. The violence, the push-backs and the deaths caused by AI systems will remain unknown if the AI Act fails to guarantee people the right to challenge the violations they have suffered, and if public oversight is impeded.

Lawmakers must ensure the EU AI Act empowers people to seek justice, guarantee public transparency, and prevent harm from the most harmful AI systems when used in migration and border control.


In June 2023, EU institutions moved into the final phase of negotiations, the so-called ‘trilogues’.
These meetings will determine the final legislation and how much it centres the human rights of every person, regardless of their migration status.

We’re urging EU institutions to ban the use of harmful tech used against people on the move and racialised communities and effectively regulate all AI systems used in migration.

Read our Joint Statement
‘EU Trilogues: The AI Act must protect people’s rights’



Who We Are

The #ProtectNotSurveil coalition is a group of activists, organisations, researchers and more working to ensure the EU AI Act safeguards people on the move from harms emanating from AI systems.

Our mission is to challenge the use of digital technologies at different levels of EU policies and advocate for the ability of people to move and to seek safety and opportunity without risking harm, surveillance or discrimination.

Our advocacy aims at holding accountable the EU, Member States and private companies profiting from human rights violations at and within the EU borders. We do so by connecting digital rights, migrant rights organisations and racial justice movements to challenge the techno-solutionist approaches in migration policies.

The coalition is led by:

With the support of:


Dr. Derya Ozkul

Dr. Jan Tobias Muehlberg

Dr. Niovi Vavoula

The coalition also includes more than 300 supporters,
who stay informed through our newsletter,
support joint initiatives at the EU and national levels
and participate in our events.

For more for information on the campaign and the work of the coalition,
email us at info[at]

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