Remove the immigration exemption from the Data Protection Bill

by Nicolas Hatton

Remove the immigration exemption from the Data Protection Bill

by Nicolas Hatton
Nicolas Hatton
Nicolas Hatton co-founded the3million in July 2016 and has been one of the leading campaigners for the cause of EU citizens in the UK since the referendum. He is a French citizen living in Bristol.
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Nicolas Hatton
Nicolas Hatton co-founded the3million in July 2016 and has been one of the leading campaigners for the cause of EU citizens in the UK since the referendum. He is a French citizen living in Bristol.
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Latest: May 10, 2018

Thank you - the battle is just starting

Dear backer and supporter of the access2justice challenge,


You have been wonderful in the last 24 hours, as we have almost reached our first £10,000 target. This means we can progress our lega...

Read More

Pledge today to protect our #access2justice. The Government has passed an immigration exemption in the Data Protection Bill that creates a two-tier system of data protection rights with lesser rights for immigrants. 

As a result of this new Bill, immigrants, including the 3 million EU citizens in the EU, will not have access to data and information regarding how the Government decides on their fate, including their potential deportation.  This makes any defence and legal action against unlawful deportation by the Government extremely difficult. 

We need to raise £30,000 to enable us to challenge this in the courts.  The exemption allows the Home Office to deny anyone involved in an immigration case their data protection rights. That’s not what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is supposed to be about. Please help us challenge this by sharing this page and donating.

The Data Protection Bill is supposed to give people greater control over their data. Yet there is an immigration exemption within it that does precisely the opposite. It denies people access to their data when they need it most.

Open Rights Group and campaigners for EU citizens’ rights the3million have teamed up to strip this contradictory exemption from the Data Protection Bill. When this passes into law in the next weeks we must be prepared to challenge the exemption in court.

This exemption effectively removes individuals’ right to data protection if it's likely to prejudice “effective immigration control". That means it applies to all immigration cases including those affected by the Windrush scandal, the three million EU citizens living in the UK, who will who will have to apply for a new immigration status after Brexit and those seeking refuge in the UK, for example from Syria.

This is a huge problem because according to the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the Home Office has a ten percent error rate in immigration status checks. Under current law these sorts of mistakes can be challenged by victims and corrected. But the immigration exemption prevents access to personal data and due process, so people will have no way to stop a typo from turning their lives upside down. The worst kinds of errors could lead to an application being refused or even deportation.

Worse yet, this injustice could affect individuals far beyond the scope of immigration cases because administrative errors can ensnare any UK resident. Rights are meant to be universal, so when we apply them selectively it undermines the whole system and makes everyone vulnerable.

What are we doing?

When the Bill is passed into law we will Judicially Review the decision to include the immigration exemption in the Data Protection Bill. The exemption means people who need access to their data the most, are denied it. We have tried, for months, to persuade the government to reconsider its position on the exemption. But they have refused to listen. We have no option now but to ask the Court to intervene.

Where is the money going?

Open Rights Group and the3million are seeking funding to enable us to:

To cover court fees and travel fees.

To cover our costs risk associated with the case. As not for profit organisations, we cannot afford the normal cost risk associated with litigation like this, so we will ask the Court to provide us with costs protection. In other words, we will ask the Court to limit the government’s ability to recover legal costs from us to a sum of money. We are intending to ask for costs protection up to £30,000. We need your help to raise this money. We do not have sufficient resources on our own. Without your help, we will simply not be able to bring this important case.

Please pledge to support our legal case against the Government so access to data is maintained for all UK residents, irrespective of where they came from or where they were born.

Update 1

Nicolas Hatton

May 10, 2018

Thank you - the battle is just starting

Dear backer and supporter of the access2justice challenge,


You have been wonderful in the last 24 hours, as we have almost reached our first £10,000 target. This means we can progress our legal challenge, knowing we will have the financial resource to take the Government to court.

To do so, we will need to collect another £20,000 in the next 29 days, so please share the crowdJustice page widely, so me and everyone who has to deal with the Home Office to continue to live their lives in the UK can retain their #access2justice and not be denied access to their own data by the Home Office. 

The process will take between 6 to 9 months so we will update you with regular updates.

Yesterday, the Data Protection Bill came back to the House of Commons and the cross-party amendment, which would have removed the exemption, was defeated by 28 votes so the bill will now become law with the built-in exemption but the battle is only starting.

As per the3million's campaign for EU citizens' rights and the Open Rights Group's campaign for the rights to privacy and free speech online, this is about hope and fighting for a better future for all. 

So once again, a massive thank you to you, who believed in us from the start. You are amazing. 

Please share widely and spread the message that we can win this and restore some sense of justice to those who need it most.

Kind regards,


Nicolas Hatton

Founder member of the3million


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