“Mind the Five”: Guidelines for Data Privacy and Security in Humanitarian Work With Undocumented Migrants and Other Vulnerable Populations

Paper by Sara Vannini, Ricardo Gomez and Bryce Clayton Newell: “The forced displacement and transnational migration of millions of people around the world is a growing phenomenon that has been met with increased surveillance and datafication by a variety of actors. Small humanitarian organizations that help irregular migrants in the United States frequently do not have the resources or expertise to fully address the implications of collecting, storing, and using data about the vulnerable populations they serve. As a result, there is a risk that their work could exacerbate the vulnerabilities of the very same migrants they are trying to help. In this study, we propose a conceptual framework for protecting privacy in the context of humanitarian information activities (HIA) with irregular migrants. We draw from a review of the academic literature as well as interviews with individuals affiliated with several US‐based humanitarian organizations, higher education institutions, and nonprofit organizations that provide support to undocumented migrants. We discuss 3 primary issues: (i) HIA present both technological and human risks; (ii) the expectation of privacy self‐management by vulnerable populations is problematic; and (iii) there is a need for robust, actionable, privacy‐related guidelines for HIA. We suggest 5 recommendations to strengthen the privacy protection offered to undocumented migrants and other vulnerable populations….(More)”.