U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has quietly set up a massive ‘surveillance net system’ that allows them to spy on ‘almost anyone, seemingly at any time’ without a warrant, a report reports. new study.
The Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law published a report Tuesday, “American Dragnet: Data-Driven Deportation in the 21st Century,” detailing how ICE sucked up massive amounts of data from state DMVs, utility records, private data brokers and reconnaissance software face, often without a warrant or any meaningful means of surveillance.
“ICE has built its surveillance system by crossing legal and ethical lines, leveraging the trust people place in government agencies and essential service providers, and exploiting the vulnerability of people who voluntarily give up their information to track down their families,” the report said. “Despite the incredible reach and obvious civil rights implications of ICE’s surveillance practices, the agency has managed to shroud these practices in near-total secrecy, avoiding enforcement of even the handful of laws and policies that could be invoked to impose limitations.”
The report details how ICE began rapidly expanding its surveillance capabilities at the end of the George W. Bush administration. Since 2008, ICE has spent $2.8 billion on facial recognition software and other new surveillance technologies. As recently as last week, federal contract records watch ICE intends to spend $7.2 million on even more facial recognition tools.
Among the report’s key findings: ICE scanned the driver’s license photos of about one-third of adults using facial recognition technology. ICE has access to the driver’s license data of 3 out of 4 adults, can track drivers’ movements in cities that are home to 3 out of 4 adults, and can locate 3 out of 4 adults through their utility records.
In 2020, the Washington Post reported that ICE had performed facial recognition searches on millions of driver’s license photos in Maryland, where undocumented immigrants are allowed to apply for permits, without state or court approval.
“When undocumented drivers apply for permits, they are placing a great deal of trust in the state that their information will not be used against them,” the Center on Privacy & Technology report said. “Allowing ICE to use driver records for immigration enforcement purposes is a profound betrayal of that trust.”
ICE has also evaded efforts by states to cut its data mining capabilities. For example, the report found that after Washington State cut off ICE’s access to its driver database, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) searches of a driver database not run by the state almost doubled.
Similarly, although the Oregon Legislature has banned the release of state data to ICE, the agency can still access the information through two data brokers, Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis Risk Solutions. , to which the State DMV sold its records.
The report recommends that Congress, in addition to conducting more aggressive oversight, should prohibit or require a warrant for ICE to access DMV data for immigration enforcement purposes. It also says states should prohibit ICE from using utility records such as telephone, electricity, and water bills for similar purposes, and states should monitor and audit ICE’s access. ICE to databases.
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.