New Zealand Immigration Courts Controversy with New Big Data System for Identifying Potential Troublemakers

Big Data

Immigration counter at the airport. Photo by via Google Images


The New Zealand Immigration has started a pilot program 18 months ago that uses data collected via the country’s visa application to determine those that are in contravention of their visa conditions before deciding who should be notified to leave the country. Today, it allowed them to move faster in deporting people rather than prosecuting them or allowing them to re-apply for visas, claims Radio New Zealand.

Immigration Compliance and Investigations Area Manager Alistair Murray claims that the work is still in its pilot stages and that they will model the available data sets to look at the country’s demographic. They are also using the data to look at people who are most probably going to commit harm in their system or to New Zealand itself.

"It's predicting how someone is most likely to behave based on how their predecessors have behaved,” said Murray. He continued that their team will also be working closely with the police to provide deportation as an alternative to a prosecution in certain cases if the data reveals or the individual fits their harm model criteria.

Immigration New Zealand's Unfair Decisions spokesperson Chris Kelly, on the other hand, finds it "a bit arbitrary" that one might be a psychic trying to predict a future.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, meanwhile, expressed his disappointment that he only found out about the visa-data modeling project on Thursday when he was contacted by the Morning Report before his radio appearance.

During the program, Lees-Galloway said that he would be calling the officials for a briefing and that they assured him that the project was not racial profiling. He also pointed out that he does "support them using good data to make good decisions.”