The more important lead story of this article is buried within the outcome story of ICE agents using a private license plate database to capture illegal aliens. First the headline story:
WASHINGTON – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been using over the past year a vast license plate database to identify the location of vehicles associated with immigrants who do not have legal status, according to documents released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
More than 9,000 ICE agents have been given access to the controversial database, which contains hundreds of millions of license plate scans from across the U.S., according to the documents obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act request. ICE employees are able to use the database to obtain information on where individuals have been and when they were there, with data going back as far as five years.
“With access to this database, ICE can pinpoint the exact location of drivers going about their daily lives,” Matt Cagle, technology and civil liberties attorney with the ACLU, told The Hill. Cagle pointed out that ICE can use the database to identify detailed information on anyone — not just individuals wanted for deportation.
“ICE is not prohibited under this program from tracking the locations of citizens,” he said.
The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. (more)
If you continue reading the story you come across this:
[…] “Unrestricted law-enforcement access to massive private-sector databases housing location information on hundreds of millions of Americans is clearly an idea the Framers hadn’t considered,” Wyden said.
ICE entered into a contract with Thomson Reuters at the end of 2017 for access to the license-plate reader database, which is run by a company called Vigilant Solutions. The documents released by the ACLU reveal details about how the agency has used the database since entering into that contract. (cont.)
Keep in mind, what we are talking about here is a private sector tracking database; something that might trigger long-time CTH readers to remember from several years past (2013-2014). As an outcropping of an unrelated story, we went deep, very deep, into the assembly of a nationwide private database as it was being constructed.
Use a private-sector database to track down people for missed property tax payments; or use the database to track lawful gun owners; or use the database to stop a traveler from entering an airport until they pay an unpaid parking fine, and hey, no biggie. But start using that private database to arrest illegal aliens…. and Whoa, now the ACLU says we’ve got a problem.
Hey, at least now they are admitting the database exists. Considering how strongly everyone denied it was being established six years ago, well, that’s progress I guess.
What we are talking about here are private companies, actually four specific companies, that invested multi-millions in creating a proprietary network that allowed them to build a database. Later, once that database was established, they become federal contractors and/or sell access to that database to federal contractors.
To say I found myself on the wrong side of the people assembling the process, when I was warning about them, well, would be akin to saying the Miami Dade School Police were an amicable bunch of Ward Cleaver-type chaps during our 2013 MDPSD investigation.
They ain’t. I digress…
Once they established the database the private companies then become federal contractors or sell access to the database to federal contractors. Who runs airport security? Who runs the toll booths? Who runs just about every governmental process in the day life of civic engagement? Yup – govt. contractors.
As I have spent quite a bit of time researching this issue I’ve realized all of the data is essentially “vendor driven”. Meaning that 3rd parties are buying/selling (contracting) information about YOU to/from the government as a service for revenue enhancement.
The APLR system is essentially a tool in this type of service.
Let’s say you are behind on a civil fee, or local tax, or maybe you just have outstanding parking tickets……. – the 3rd party (contracts with the govt) to harvest the information, then they mine government data bases and compile a hub of information.
The vendor then becomes the extension of government collection.
You come walking out of the grocery store and find your car has a “wheel boot” which disables your ability to drive. Under the wiper is a ticket with the number to call to have the boot removed – when you call the number you find out that you must first pay “the fee or municipal tax you are in default” to get the boot removed.
The data base is proprietary to the vendor. The government entity just allows the vendor to mine their existing data network to create a hub of centralized connected data about you. The vendor gets a fee and/or percentage of payment recovery.
Where is it going …. ? Everywhere.
You go to check in at an airport (now considered a federal building) and find out your travel is suspended until you pay the municipal parking ticket from 2 years ago in Chicago that you totally forgot about (you live in Dallas).
However, the clerk smiles and says “you can pay for it right here if you like, just give me your credit card and we can take care of it for you”….
The private business (airline collector) gets a cut of the collection fee.
All of this is from private-public business partnerships – constructed as a business model – from 3rd party vendors who purchase access to data and legally act as an authorized party/agent on behalf of the government. (link)
When we originally said this is a dangerous slippery slope, the ACLU, civil rights groups and *most* conservative groups said not to worry because this isn’t government collecting data; these are only private companies. Blah, blah, blah, wash-rinse-repeat. No, honestly, the level of anger at exposing the system (as it was being built) was off-the-charts.
Well, five years later this process is now being used to capture illegal aliens. NOW, the ACLU and others have suddenly found themselves taking issue with it.
PS. Did you know that anytime you write the words “Patriots” and “Day” together in a sentence, you enter the NSA PRISM priority system for auto-review.