HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, HSPH; Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law, HLS


The digital age presents a complex array of opportunities and threats for transnational families. Rapidly evolving and increasingly accessible technologies have radically reduced the communication challenges long faced by transnational families. But the impacts of digital technology are highly context-dependent: just as smartphones can transmit emotional support to unaccompanied minors caught in difficult situations, they can enable authoritarian governments to monitor, track, and deport members of transnational families. The current political and social moment, with xenophobia on the rise and a pandemic raging, has more than ever highlighted the need to effectively facilitate the freedom of information while providing robust oversight to identify false, misleading, or inaccurate information, to ensure data privacy, and to expand access to technology for vulnerable groups. Adaptable and rights-based regulation, rapid intergovernmental and interdepartmental cooperation, and well-defined public-private partnerships are essential to realize the full potential and promise of technology to support the needs and aspirations of transnational families.


Bhabha, Jacqueline, Abhishek Bhatia, and Sam Peisch. "Transnational families and technology: trends, impacts and futures." Research Handbook on International Migration and Digital Technology. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021.