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Greens condemn Immigration NZ data use

Green Party Immigration spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman has this morning written to the Minister for Immigration, expressing concern about the Ministry’s discriminatory use of immigrants’ personal data. 

“We’re very concerned to hear that Immigration NZ is using an algorithm that includes age, gender and ethnicity to determine access to immigration opportunities, including identifying people who are supposedly more likely to commit crimes based on their ethnicity,” said Ms Ghahraman.

“We know that the previous government introduced the use of so called ‘risk assessment’ algorithms in a range of other areas, using data in ways it was never intended and affecting the interests of New Zealanders based on discriminatory grounds. 

“This is an issue of general concern for the Green Party and for me as a former human rights lawyer, which is why I raised it with Government earlier this year, initiating work to stop to this kind of breach.

“The use of identifiers such as race, age, and gender in determining access to resource or opportunity is a clear breach of the New Zealand Human Rights Act.

“This sort of inappropriate information gathering and use of so-called ‘risk assessment tools’ was specifically raised by the United Nations in our last reporting cycle, including a recommendation that we address this issue through legislation. 

“This latest breach by Immigration NZ is heartbreaking. Immigrants are not data points in an algorithm, they are people who contribute to our communities and to our economy. Government departments should treat them accordingly.

“I have written to Minister Lees-Galloway this morning to express the Green Party’s concerns at this practice, and I expect he will look into this issue thoroughly,” said Ms Ghahraman.