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Datafication technologies, counter-power and resistance at the EU Borders

A 2-day workshop on the datafication of the border regime, algorithmic systems of border security, and strategies of counter-power and resistance.


The process of transforming our everyday lives into quantifiable data is also transforming borders and migration governance. Biographical data, fingerprints, facial image and genetic data are extracted from asylum-seekers and stored in information systems to implement border controls as well as asylum and migration policies in the EU. These systems are enhanced with algorithmic optimization systems, also referred as artificial intelligence (AI) or automated decision-making approaches, which are claimed to enable more efficient allocation of human and financial resources. Yet, little is known about how these technologies are designed, how they are acquired, what forms of accountability and oversight are at stake.


Moreover, researchers have shown that datafication technologies can intensify discrimination. Statistical errors inherent to many algorithms used at the EU borders can strongly impact on vulnerable subjects on the move, jeopardising human rights and putting their lives at risk. The myth of efficiency also needs to be called into question when calculating costs of the maintenance of these digital infrastructures or the energy consumption and carbon footprint. 


Therefore, it is imperative to gain a better understanding of datafication technologies and the use of algorithms at the EU borders, and explore counterpower strategies to challenge these developments. For example, what methods have been used to analyse these technologies and their effects? Which other possibilities of resistance against datafied borders can be envisaged? To what extent can forms of litigation and legal activism be strategically mobilised? 

This workshop will explore the EU’s and UK’s datafied border regime, the current algorithmic systems implemented in the field of border security, and the examples and strategies of counterpower and resistance in the European context. Firstly, we hope that the workshop can help produce a repository of methods for the study of datafication technologies, which can be shared with other actors. Secondly, we hope that exchanges between researchers, investigative journalists, civil society actors can help build better strategies of accountability and resistance. 

The workshop will take place over two days, 6 July (from 09.45-13.00) and 7 July (13.45-17.00). All times are BST.


Making datafied borders: private technologies, public money

Chair: Lucrezia Canzutti, King’s College London


Ana Valdivia, King’s College London

Neither Opaque nor Transparent: Datafication and Accountability at EU’s Borders


Edin Omanovic, Privacy International

Borders Without Borders: Migration and the Expansion of the Surveillance State


Javier Sánchez-Monedero, Universidad de Córdoba & Data Justice Lab

Emotional AI at the border: the case of iBorderCtrl


Mark Akkerman, Stop Wapenhandel

The border-industrial complex: lobbying for and profiting from increased border security and control


Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, University of Copenhagen

The political economy of data craving in migration management 


Discussant: Anna Leander, Graduate Institute Geneva

DAY 1//
6th JULY


Below are details of panels & speakers. For more information on times, additional readings/resources, please register



Researching data flows and the politics of data

Chair: Sarah Perret, King’s College London


Chris Jones, Statewatch 

The EU's interoperability initiative: a control infrastructure in progress

Giulia Crescini, ASGI 

Identification tools along the transit within externalization policies: an essential tool for the implementation of the new EU pact for migration


Lina Dencik and Philippa Metcalfe, Cardiff University & Data Justice Lab

Beyond data centrism in researching the politics of data

Sahdya Darr, Open Rights Group 

Discussant: Claudia Aradau, King’s College London

DAY 1//
6th JULY



Building counter-power, multiplying resistance

Chair: Ibtehal Hussain, King’s College London


Félix Tréguer, Sciences Po

Doing Action Research on Algorithmic Urban Policing: IA-Powered Surveillance, Elusive Democratic Oversight

José Bautista, Fundación porCausa 

Migration Control Industry: auditing the public spending behind Spain's and EU's migration policies


Martina Tazzioli, Goldsmiths College, University of London

The technological disruptions of migration. Rethinking counter-powers and resistances beyond the repressive hypothesis 


Tamás Molnár, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

Large-scale EU systems and the rights of irregular migrants

José Pérez Lama, Indymedia Estrecho

Some brief notes on Indymedia Estrecho. Biopolitical production in the space of flows 2003-2007++

Discussant: Lucrezia Canzutti, King’s College London



Connecting: methods, counter-power, accountability

Chair: Ana Valdivia, King’s College London


Antonella Napolitano, Privacy International 


Claudia Aradau, King’s College London 

Making a difference at the datafied borders

Luisa Izuzquiza, FragDeenStaat & Abolish Frontex

Sarah Chander, EDRi

DAY 2//
7th JULY

DAY 2//
7th JULY

A PDF of the programme is available for download here

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Below you can access a workshop report including summaries of the interventions given and resources shared.

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