Stop Spying on Asylum Seekers!
This was a campaign to take action with us and write to Priti Patel, the UK Home Secretary, to demand that the Home Office stops spying on asylum seekers through their 'Aspen Card' debit payment card. The campaign is now closed.
How would you feel if your government knew exactly how you spend your money? What you buy, where you shop, even the exact time you make your purchases. And how would you feel if the government was literally able to cut off your access to your cash, because your buying habits were deemed suspicious?
That's the reality for many UK based asylum seekers, spied on by the Home Office through their 'Aspen Card', the debit payment card they rely on for their basic subsistence and survival.
In order to bring this to light, we conducted interviews with three asylum seekers living in different parts of the country who were willing to share their personal experiences of their Aspen Card purchases being monitored by the Home Office. Those testimonies were collected before the current pandemic. These interviews, performed by actors, highlight the different struggles they faced and the different ways in which they tried to resist Home Office surveillance.
This research is a result of a collaboration between Mishka, a campaigner and expert-by-experience with a focus on asylum and refugee rights and UK immigration detention, Grace Tillyard, doctoral researcher in the Media, Communications and Cultural Studies department at Goldsmiths University of London, and Privacy International.
We wish to extend warm thanks to all the caseworkers, asylum support organisations and interviewees who collaborated on this project.