top of page

Asylum, digital surveillance and platform power

Professor Claudia Aradau will deliver a talk/seminar as part of the Forced Migration and Digital Technologies: (Dis)continuities in Actors and Power Relations public seminar series.

The series is hosted by the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford is convened by Dr Marie Godin & Dr Derya Ozkul and will run from 24th Jan - 2rd March 2023. Full details of the programme are detailed below.

Professor Aradau's talk & seminar on 'Asylum, digital surveillance and platform power' will be delivered on Tuesday 28th February, from 1-2pm. Details of the event can be found on the RSC website, and an abstract can be found below.


In January 2022, the Upper Tribunal in the UK issued a decision on sur place activities by asylum seekers and the status of Facebook material and Facebook surveillance ([2022] UKUT 00023 (IAC)). At stake in the case is the rejected application of an Iranian asylum seeker of Kurdish ethnicity who is appealing a deportation decision to Iran. Mr XX’s case relies on material he had posted on Facebook and the effects that these digital traces have produced might have upon his potential return to Iran. The courts have grappled with questions of digital surveillance and social media platforms for some time in the UK. Yet, understandings of digital surveillance have been so limited that judges often assumed that all that was required was for appellants to delete their social media accounts. This paper develops an analysis of how digital surveillance of asylum seekers is shaped through platform power. How is state surveillance made possible or limited through platform power? What is the reach of digital surveillance in an individual’s life? In combining methods of distant and close reading in an archive of asylum and immigration appeals in the UK, I show how digital surveillance and platform power are transforming asylum decisions. While digital surveillance – paradoxically – enables rights claims, an analysis of platform power sheds light on new risks and constraints that asylum seekers come to face.



bottom of page