The data broker LexisNexis provides U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ways to target people who may commit a crime before any crime actually takes place, reports The Intercept. ICE and LexisNexis have a $16.8 million agreement. “The purpose of this program is mass surveillance at its core,” said Julie Mao, co-founder of Just Futures Law. Mao called the ICE contract document “an admission and indication that ICE aims to surveil individuals where no crime has been committed and no criminal warrant or evidence of probable cause.” The contract overview describes LexisNexis software as a sophisticated analytical machine that purports to detect suspicious activity and scrutinize migrants, including their locations.
The document says that over 11,000 ICE officials, including those in the deportation-oriented Enforcement and Removal Operations branch, were using LexisNexis as of 2021. ICE is using software to “automate” the hunt for suspicious-looking blips in the data, or links between people, places, and property. It is unclear how such blips in the data can be linked to immigration infractions or criminal activity, but the contract’s use of the term “automate” indicates that ICE is to some extent letting computers make consequential conclusions about human activity. LexisNexis supports ICE’s activities through a widely used data system named the Law Enforcement Investigative Database Subscription. LexisNexis data includes boating licenses, DMV filings, voter registrations, license plate reader data and cell phone subscriber rolls. The company has data points on more than 380 million people.