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Government Surveillance, Privacy & Data

FOIA Request for ICE on Commercial License Plate Reader Database

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency recently issued a contract request for query-based access to a commercial license plate reader (LPR) database. On December 27, 2017, ICE released a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) in which ICE confirmed it had procured this service. On Friday, February 2,  we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with ICE seeking information on the contract, as well as any internal training materials, policy memos, and documents related to how ICE agents plan to use the commercial database and LPR data. We filed this request because ICE’s access to a commercial LPR database raises multiple concerns: 1) ICE’s policy permits excessive access to and retention of LPR data; 2) The “hotlist” feature provides ICE the ability to monitor ongoing movements of designated license plates indefinitely and without clear restrictions; and 3) This access may undermine limits on racial profiling and surveillance at ‘sensitive locations.