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Digital identification systems and the right to privacy in the asylum context

  • Establishing the identity of asylum seekers in the absence of credible documents represents a significant challenge for governments. To support decision-making processes in identity determination and verification procedures, Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees introduced three digital identification systems under the “Integrated Identity Management - plausibility, data quality and security aspects (IDMS)” programme. Because these algorithmic systems are deployed in highly political settings affecting vulnerable populations on the move, this research investigates how the Federal Office legitimises the policy and use of IDM-S that indicate a new direction of governance driven by so-called “innovative technologies”. In this context, legitimacy - considered a core virtue of just, democratic institutions - is understood as a justificatory concept seen in conjunction with (good) governance and the right to privacy as guaranteed under Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The data justice framework is applied to structure the evaluation of state practices. In addition, the qualitative content analysis is used to find patterns in publicly available documents. Expert interviews were carried out to include experiences of affected individuals and to verify identified information provided by the government. The analysis revealed that efforts to legitimise IDM-S included four patterns: referring to the rule of law and national security concerns, non-disclosing delegitimising information and limiting accountability, emphasising performance efficiency and the systems’ high level of innovation, implying objective operations by means of a mathematical-technical approach. The results underscore profound discrepancies between justifications and state practices, outlining severe privacy violations as well as the lack of compliance to qualitative values in governance that pertain to participation, transparency, accountability, impartiality and scientific soundness of state operations.

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Author:Helene Hahn
URL: https://pub-data.leuphana.de/frontdoor/index/index/docId/1124
Subtitle (English):An analysis of implementations in Germany
Document Type:Master's Thesis
Year of Completion:2020
Date of Publication (online):2021/03/08
Date of first Publication:2021/03/10
Publishing Institution:Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Universitätsbibliothek der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Granting Institution:Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Date of final exam:2020/12/31
Release Date:2021/03/10
Leuphana University’s International Professional Master’s Programme "Governance and Human Rights".
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 35 Öffentliche Verwaltung, Militärwissenschaft / 353 Einzelne Bereiche der öffentlichen Verwaltung
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht