Civil society is calling for more protection of people on the move in the EU AI Act

Migration and Asylum, Open Letter

In an open letter published today, 192 CSOs and individuals including EuroMed Rights are demanding more protection for people on the move in the EU AI Act.

As the European Parliament amends the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), it is more crucial than ever to put pressure and ensure safeguards and protections for people on the move. Artificial intelligence is increasingly developed, tested and deployed in border control and asylum processing and it is vital to ensure that these new technologies to do not harm people on the move.  

In its original proposal, the EU AI Act does not adequately address and prevent the harms stemming from the use of AI in the migration context. Whilst states and institutions often promote AI in terms of benefits for wider society, for marginalised communities, and people on the move (namely migrants, asylum seekers and refugees), AI technologies fit into wider systems of over-surveillance, criminalisation, structural discrimination and violence.  

It is critical that the EU AI Act protects all people from harmful uses of AI systems, regardless of their migration status. We, the undersigned organisations and individuals, call on the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and EU Member States to ensure the EU Artificial Intelligence Act protects the rights of all people, including people on the move.  

The AI act should be amended to: 

  • Prohibit unacceptable uses of AI systems in the context of migration: Some AI systems pose an ‘unacceptable risk’ to our fundamental rights, which will never be fixed by technical means or procedural safeguards. Whilst the proposed AI Act prohibits some uses of AI, it does not prevent some of the most harmful uses of AI in migration and border control, despite the potential for irreversible harm. 
  • Expand the list of high-risk systems used in migration: While the proposal already lists in Annex III the uses of ‘high-risk’ AI systems in migration and border control, it fails to capture all AI-based systems that affect people’s rights and that should be subject to oversight and transparency measures 
  • Ensure the AI Act applies to all high-risk systems in migration, including those in use as part of EU IT systems: Article 83 of the AI Act lays out the rules for AI systems already on the market, at the time of the legislation’s entry into force. Article 83 includes a carve-out for AI systems that form part of the EU’s large-scale IT systems used in migration, such as Eurodac, the Schengen Information System, and ETIAS. 
  • Ensure transparency and oversight measures apply: People affected by high-risk AI systems need to be able to understand, challenge, and seek remedies when those systems violate their rights. In the context of migration, this requirement is both urgent and necessary given the overwhelming imbalance of power between those deploying AI systems and those subject to them. 

Read the full open letter and the list of signatories.

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