LexisNexis—the data-harvesting company that you might know as a key tool for researchers and reporters across a cavalcade of industries—has signed a $16.8 million contract with Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE), the Intercept reported on Friday. The contract was initially scoped out by Mijente, a Lantinx advocacy group that had previously critiqued major tech companies like Amazon for their work with the federal agency.
The deal between LexisNexis and ICE will reportedly give agents access to a massive database aggregated from a buffet of public and private sources, and includes data points like the credit history, license plate numbers, and cell subscriber information for an untold number of people. The Intercept also reports that as part of this contract, LexisNexis will be offering up its own analytical tech to help police wade through this vast sea of data in order to match disparate data points with a single person—a capability that the company already offers out of the box on its own website.
As the report points out, this tech seems to largely be a replacement for what ICE was already using in-house until now: CLEAR, a Thompson Reuters-owned tech platform that consolidates a seemingly infinite trove of public records into a single, searchable database. Previous reporting has found that CLEAR access played a central role in ICE’s deportation efforts thus far, and the agency has spent upwards of $60 million in annual contracts for access to this trove of data. However, that subscription was set to expire at the end of Feburary, not long before Mijente found the new contract awarded to LexisNexis.
The contract—like many government contracts—is reportedly sparse on details. The pre-solicitation notice that the agency put online before ultimately landing on LexisNexis as their doxing partner of choice asked for tech that would “assist the ICE mission of conducting criminal investigations that protect the United States against terrorists and criminal organizations that threaten our safety and national security.” According to the notice, this contract could run up to four years.
When asked for comment, a LexisNexis spokeswoman told the Intercept that the tool it was offering here “contains data primarily from public government records,” and that “the principal non-public data is authorized by Congress for such uses in the Drivers Privacy Protection Act and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act statutes.” That said, she wouldn’t go into the specifics of what kind of data ICE would have access to—or how much.