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It Turns out All Kinds of Tech Companies Are Working With ICE

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Days after Microsoft came under intense scrutiny for working with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a report from NBC News revealed that a number of major tech firms have been raking in millions of dollars from the government agency that has, under the advisement of the Trump administration, taken to stripping children from their families at the border.

According to a public records search conducted by NBC, companies including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Thomson Reuters, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions, and Palantir all have active contracts with ICE. The Verge pointed out that Dell also has a number of active contracts with the agency.


Per government records, Palantir has one active contract with ICE for creating a web-enabled case management system. Palantir founder Peter Thiel secretly funded a lawsuit that bankrupted Gizmodo’s former parent company. Palantir’s agreement is worth $53 million and expires in 2019. The company also took in nearly $5 million last month from ICE, the final payment in a $39 million contract that started back in 2015. The money went to the “operations and maintenance” of FALCON, Palantir’s system for tracking immigrants.

According to The Intercept, ICE started funding FALCON in 2013 and uses the service to pull in information from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and other sources to put together profiles of people who have crossed the border. That information includes home and work addresses, family relationships, employment details, immigration history, and criminal records. Funding documents for the program said that it would eventually give ICE access to four billion “individual data records,” and could give the agency the ability “to follow target telephone activity and GPS movement on a map in real time.”


Another data firm, Thomson Reuters Special Services—a subsidiary of news agency Thomson Reuters—has four active agreements with ICE, including one that it entered into in February and another in March. Per NBC, the company signed a $6.8 million contract—beating out other tech firms including IBM and LexisNexis—to provide support to ICE in its “mission to locate, arrest, and remove criminal aliens that pose a threat to public safety.”

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), which split from Hewlett-Packard in 2015, won a $75 million contract from the US Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees ICE, in September 2017 to manage CPB’s network operations center, according to NBC. Government records show the company also is in the middle of completing a $39 million contract with ICE, among other, smaller bids.

Motorola Solutions currently has a number of ongoing contracts with ICE, including those that provide the agency with mobile radio communications and a “tactical communications program” that it is slated to complete in late 2019.

According to The Verge, the federal systems branch of Dell currently has over $22 million in active contracts with ICE. Most of the contracts are software licenses. The company also provides support for Microsoft products used by the agency.


Of the tech firms with contracts with ICE, only HPE offered a condemnation of the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from asylum-seeking families. “As a company, we are opposed to any policy that separates children from their families and urge the administration to change its policy to keep families together,” a company spokesperson told NBC.

Earlier this week, Microsoft employees expressed their displeasure at their company providing cloud services to ICE. Workers began circulating a petition calling for the company to cancel the contract, which requires Microsoft to “process data on edge devices or utilize deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification.” Microsoft condemned the administration’s policy of separating families and has downplayed its relationship with the agency.


[NBC News, The Verge]

Update: This story has been updated to include details on Palantir founder Peter Thiel’s role in funding a lawsuit against Gizmodo’s former parent company.