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LexisNexis sued by immigration advocates over data practices

Four immigration advocacy groups launch lawsuit in Illinois alleging data brokers collection, aggregation and sale of peoples personal data, including non-public information, to corporations and specialists

Sebastian Klovig Skelton


Published: 18 Aug 2022 15: 12

US data broker LexisNexis has allegedly violated privacy and consumer protection rights in Illinois by collecting and combining extensive private information on people without their consent and selling it to a variety of third parties, including federal immigration authorities, in accordance with case filed by immigrants rights groups.

LexisNexis, although most widely known as a legal research tool, is among the worlds biggest aggregators of personal and commercial data, amassing an incredible number of records that it sells to a large number of private companies, specialists and police agencies.

Filed on 16 August in the Circuit Court of Cook County by four immigration advocacy groups Just Futures Law, Legal Action Chicago, Mijente, and Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) the lawsuit further alleges that LexisNexiss data collection practices help facilitate government surveillance and tracking of protestors, immigrants, along with other communities of colour.

LexisNexis sells consumers data via an online platform it calls Accurint, says the 33-page complaint. Accurint provides an encyclopedic summary of an individuals existence; its database aggregates both public and non-public information possesses profiles on thousands of people.

These details includes names, addresses, emails, criminal histories, telephone numbers, past jobs, former marriages, relatives, associates, automobile information, bankruptcies, liens, judgments, real property records, social media marketing information, and business and employment information. A lot of this data is drawn from day-to-day consumer transactions.

The complaint says the firms technology poses a grave threat to civil liberties because, by using Accurint, police officers can surveil and track people predicated on information these officers wouldn’t normally, oftentimes, otherwise have the ability to obtain with out a subpoena, court order, or other legal process. It adds: The officers who’ve usage of this data include Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees.

The complaint further details how LexisNexis makes significant profits from its collection, aggregation and sale of peoples personal identifying information by charging users for every element of Accurints search functions, and offering tailored subscription plans for police, government agencies, lawyers, private investigators, insurers, healthcare organisations and collections agencies, respectively.

In April 2021, The Intercept reported that LexisNexis had signed a $16.8m contract to market information to ICE. Separate documents obtained by simply Futures Law with a freedom of information request revealed that ICE searched LexisNexiss database greater than a million times, generating a lot more than 300,000 reports, in the half a year between March and September 2021.

Potential ICE uses of data broker technology include determining immigration status, determining current home address or location to be able to conduct raids/arrests, and studying immigrants families through their associations, says the complaint. Upon information and belief, ICE has used Accurint for every of the purposes, and much more.

Accurint allows ICE to conduct arbitrary digital searches of plaintiffs, their members, along with other Illinois residents, instantly accessing their sensitive personal data without privacy safeguards, warrants, or perhaps a showing of reasonableness. Further, inaccuracies plaguing the technology raise the threat of misidentification.

Computer Weekly contacted LexisNexis concerning the lawsuit and its own contract with ICE, but was told the business was struggling to touch upon pending litigation.

In a Q&A on its website concerning the ICE contract, LexisNexis said that the technology is strictly useful for identifying people with serious criminal backgrounds rather than to track those that could have committed minor offences.

It added: Any suggestion that the tool can be an instrument to greatly help separate families at the border is false. The tool promotes public safety and isn’t used to avoid legal immigration, neither is it used to eliminate individuals from america unless they pose a significant threat to public safety, including child trafficking, drug smuggling along with other serious criminal activity.

Commenting on the lawsuit, Sejal Zota, legal director of Just Futures Now, said: It really is deeply alarming the way the government is exploiting legal loopholes to acquire Americas most sensitive information with out a warrant, subpoenas, or any legal process whatsoever. LexisNexiss unethical practices because the middleman for ICE aid the deportation and separation of our immigrant community members and we plan to eliminate it.

Antonio Gutierrez, a strategic coordinator for OCAD, added: We’ve directly experienced how surveillance, data collection, and interactions with police bring about mass incarceration and terrorisation of our community. LexisNexis is violating individuals privacy rights by giving addresses, telephone numbers, relatives names and much more through the info for sale to agencies like ICE without their permission.

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