Focus: Technology against migration

Sensors and Data of Fortress Europe
by Dirk Burczyk, Christian Meyer, Matthias Monroy and Stephanie Schmidt

In order to detect and prevent uncontrolled migration, the European Union is increasingly using advanced technologies. These can be divided into sensor-based and data-based applications. The commercial interests of the providers go hand in hand with the technological development of Europe’s external borders. However, there are also approaches by non-governmental organizations to use the observation technologies for the purpose of sousveillance.

Digital Fortresses and Robotic Dogs. Technological Violence at the EU and US Borders
by Petra Molnar

Legitimated by the combination of migration and internal security threats, advanced technologies are used worldwide to ward off unwanted immigration. The examples of the United States and the European Union show that the technological upgrading of the physical external borders is accompanied by an outsourcing of border controls to other countries. As a result, authoritarian regimes are supported and surveillance technologies are exported, exacerbating the causes of migration and at the same time worsening the chances and conditions of movement.

Use of Progress. Migration Prevention as an Applied Science
by Norbert Pütter

In terms of research funding, the European Union and the German federal government support the prevention of unwanted immigration: the detection of people entering or entering the country without permission shall be improved, borders shall be monitored more effectively and networks of border security authorities shall be strengthened. The research legitimizes itself with gaps in border protection, and aims to detect and close these gaps. It promises to solve social problems with the means of advanced information and natural sciences – causing negative effects far beyond the combat against migration.

Really Only Research? The EU Develops Dubious AI for Border Control
by Lise Endregard Hemat

The article examines new technological trends in the digitization of borders. The EU promotes such experiments on the use of artificial intelligence during border controls justifying them as mere research. But especially where migrants are targeted, it is important to remember that research reflects how we see the world.

X-ray Technology for Fortress Europe. About the Detection of Fugitives in Vehicles
by Clemens Arzt

The political endeavor to make potential escape routes to Germany more and more impenetrable for people is increasingly assessing technical possibilities to prevent uncontrolled travel movements and border crossings. This article takes a look at technologies that have recently been examined and tries to classify them legally.

Warnings from the UK. Increasing Surveillance of Migrants
by Lucie Audibert

For the past decade, the UK government aimed at making life as uncomfortable as possible for people migrating to Britain, according to their ‚hostile environment‘ policy. In addition to many other tools and practices, new technologies and personal data are used. The confiscation of mobile phones and the use of GPS tracking are two impressive examples. This article discusses how the instruments can be challenged and addressed from a human rights perspective.

Look at the Border. Counter-forensics Make Forms of Border Violence Visible
by Giovanna Reder

This text describes the ongoing mechanization and surveillance of the EU’s external borders as well as forensic methods using open source materials. For this purpose, projects by the organizations “Border Forensics” and “Forensic Oceanography” are presented, which uncover human rights violations with spatial and visual analyses. They do so in order to make the systemic character of surveillance and border violence visible, to strengthen the rights of migrants and to proclaim a policy of freedom of movement.

Non-Thematic Contributions

Training of the Future? Virtual Reality Training within the German Police
by León von der Burg, Johannes Ebenau and Jasper Janssen

More and more police units in Germany are looking into virtual reality (VR). Various hopes and expectations are attached to the implementation, in particular regarding the improvement of police training and further education. The question is to what extent VR technologies can live up to these expectations or whether they hold only empty promises of modernization. The article gives an overview of experiments of VR training technologies by the police and the associated hopes and criticisms.

Contested Right to Protest. On the Draft of a Hessian Assembly Law
by Marius Kühne

Hessen is planning a state assembly law, like implemented by other federal states. With regard to most matters, this would simply update written law to the existing jurisdiction and could therefore create more legal clarity. However, police would also be allowed to monitor demonstrations comprehensively and to intervene with few restrictions. On the other hand, the planned law lacks progressive elements such as the abolition of assembly-specific prohibtions. The draft law of the conservative-ecologist government coalition made up of the parties CDU and Die Grünen therefore does not do justice to the constitutional significance of the civil right to freedom of assembly.

Rights and Wrongs? The „Maninger case“ and Federal Police Studies
by Anna M. Fauda

Reports about a professor with a neo-right past at the „Hochschule der Bundespolizei“ („Federal Police University“) for the training of police management continue to make headlines. A look behind the scenes shows that this is by no means an isolated case. This is due to structural deficiencies in the selection of teaching staff – while critical perspectives are suppressed internally.

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