New Zealand immigration overstayer predictions fuel racial profiling fears

Occurred: April 2018

An New Zealand government official revealed that overstayers to the country could be fast track deported should they belong to a demographic group that have previously committed crimes or run up hospital costs. 

Immigration New Zealand compliance and investigations area manager Alistair Murray told RNZ that the country's immigration authorities had been using an algorithm to predict overstaying based on age, gender, and ethnicity modelling data. 

The revelation prompted accusations of illegal racial profiling, forcing the government to admit the pilot programme had been operating clandestinely for 18 months.

The programme was later terminated and a review of government use of algorithms conducted. 

The subsequent stocktaking (pdf) exercise fed into a formal Algorithm Assessment Report (pdf) by the New Zealand government that made recommendations on the development and use of algorithms, including those introduced to manage migration.

Operator: Immigration New Zealand
Developer: Immigration New Zealand
Country: New Zealand
Sector: Govt - immigration
Purpose: Predict visa overstayers
Technology: Prediction algorithm
Issue: Bias/discrimination - age, gender, race, ethnicity; Human/civil rights
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: December 2021
Last updated: January 2023