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U.S. Customs And Border Protection Bought Facial Recognition Services, Location Data From LexisNexis

LexisNexis sold facial recognition services and personal location data to U.S. Customs and Border Protection last year, The Intercept reports. LexisNexis, a data broker, began selling surveillance tools to the agency in December 2022. The $15.9 million contract includes a broad menu of powerful tools for locating individuals throughout the United States using a vast array of personal data, much of it obtained and used without judicial oversight. Through LexisNexis, CBP investigators gained a convenient place to centralize, analyze, and search various databases containing enormous volumes of intimate personal information, both public and proprietary. The U.S. Border Patrol would use LexisNexis to “help examine individuals and entities to determine their admissibility to the US. and their proclivity to violate U.S. laws and regulations," according to contract documents.

Among other tools, the contract shows LexisNexis is providing CBP with social media surveillance, access to jail booking data, facial recognition and “geolocation analysis & geographic mapping” of cellphones. All this data can be queried in “large volume online batching,” allowing CBP investigators to target broad groups of people and discern “connections among individuals, incidents, activities, and locations,” handily visualized through Google Maps. Accurint, a police and counterterror surveillance tool LexisNexis acquired in 2004, allows the agency to do analysis of real-time phone call records and phone geolocation through its “TraX” software. Prior reporting found that, rather than request phone location data through a search warrant, CBP simply purchased such data from unregulated brokers — a practice that critics say allows the government to sidestep Fourth Amendment protections against police searches.


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