Poverty

15 May 2020
Many of India’s informal workforce of 450 million people - 90% of the total workforce - were abruptly closed out of their places of employment when prime minister Narendra Modi abruptly ordered a lockdown in April. Left without pay, unable to stay in their living conditions, and with only limited
11 May 2020

The combination of poverty, crowded living conditions, and lack of access to running water place Europe's 10 million Roma at particular risk from the coronavirus, leading in some countries to their scapegoating as potential hotspots for illness, according to an Open Society Foundations report. In Sofia people are only allowed to leave Roma neighbourhoods through police checkpoints if they can produce a work contract or urgent reason. In Slovakia, five Roma settlements were put under quarantine in early April; four have since had the quarantine lifted. Many Roma people have lost their jobs and may not be eligible for state compensation schemes, and many families do not have either broadband connections or sufficient devices to support distance learning for their children.

Writer: Shaun Walker
Publication: Guardian
 

15 Apr 2020
The Venezuelan government has ramped up quarantine enforcement in the Catia barrio in Caracas by issuing permits that allow only one family member out at a time and only before noon, and setting up 40 checkpoints. Many residents had flouted regulations in the barrio, home to 400,000 of Venezuela's
13 Feb 2019
In February 2019, the World Food Programme, a United Nations aid agency, announced a five-year, $45 million partnership with the data analytics company Palantir. WFP, the world's largest humanitarian organisation focusing on hunger and food security, hoped that Palantir, better known for partnering
20 Oct 2015
For low-income Americans to receive public benefits they are legally entitled to, they must submit to widespread monitoring of their intimate and personal affairs. This monitoring includes sharing a trove of personal documents and information, unannounced home visits from caseworkers, mandatory face
14 Dec 2018
The New York City public benefits system has been criticized for its punitive design, how it too often disciplines, rather than helps, people who are legally entitled to benefits. According to Mariana Chilton, the public benefits system is designed to control, surveil, and penalize low-income people
02 Dec 2016
Private companies are not the only actors pushing for increased control of benefit claimants. The World Bank has also instrumental in funding programmes aiming at assisting government in administrating welfare programmes which has led to futher surveillance of benefits claimants, in December 2016
21 Jul 2012
The State is not always the only actor involved in the surveillance of benefits claimants. Often those practices are encouraged, facilitated or conducted by private companies. South Africa for instance mandated MasterCard to help distribute benefits through biometric debit cards. https://www
02 Nov 2013
In Israel, the National Insurance Institutes sends out anti-fraud officers to spy on benefits claimants. Among the cases reported, a woman had her benefits allowances halved after a man entered her house pretending to be interested in buying the flat next door. The man, who was in fact a NII
01 Feb 2011
The DWP relies on anti-fraud officers who go and spy on benefit claimants to verify their claims. For instance, claimants who declare that they are a lone parent may end up with an officer trying to verify there is no one else living in the house. And once they are confident that the alleged lone
31 May 2018
The surveillance of benefits claimants does not happen only online. In the UK, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is known to be using CCTV footage of public buildings but also gyms and supermarkets to prove some benefits claimants are not actually disabled. Gym memberships are also being
04 Dec 2018
In Israel, the National Insurance Institute – in charge of granting benefits – eventually dropped a tender that had caused outrage in the country after being uncovered by Haaretz and Channel 13. The tender revealed the NII was trying to collect online data about benefits claimants – including from
08 Apr 2019
The rise of social media has also been a game changer in the tracking of benefits claimants. In the UK in 2019, a woman was jailed after she was jailed for five months after pictures of her partying in Ibiza emerged on social media. She had previously sued the NHS for £2.5 million, after surviving a
23 Nov 2009
The rise of social media has also been a game changer in the tracking of benefits claimants. Back in 2009, the case of Nathalie Blanchard a woman in Quebec who had lost her disability insurance benefits for depression because she looked “too happy” on her Facebook pictures had made the news. https:/
01 Mar 2019
In London, four boroughs have been trialling the London Counter Fraud Hub. The hub is designed to process huge quantities of data from millions of household to detect certain types of fraud involving the single person council tax discount (in London, a person living alone gets a reduced rate on
17 Feb 2019
The National Board of Scholarships and School Aid (Junaeb) in Chile was also heavily criticised for its use of facial recognition programmes to deliver meals at thirty schools in three cities across the country. After the Supreme Court requested in 2017 that the system must not be applied without