Just when you thought the NSA had no use, and had no reason to monitor everything in America, the Trump administration finds a way to put Big Brother to use for the benefit of the nation.
In a move sure to strike fear into illegal aliens across the United States, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency landed a contract that will give agents access to billions of U.S. license plate records and the ability to use real-time location tracking.
The contract, awarded to West Publishing (TRSS) in partnership with Vigilant Solutions, will give ICE tools to help support its investigations, but according to the agency it will not be used for to build or contribute to national license plate reader databases, The Verge reports.
“Like most other law enforcement agencies, ICE uses information obtained from license plate readers as one tool in support of its investigations,” ICE spokesperson Dani Bennett said in a statement to the Verge. “ICE conducts both criminal investigations and civil immigration enforcement investigations.”
It is not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to track license plates, but the move concerns some who love illegal aliens invading the United States with proper immigration enforcement, something in which ICE has a broad role.
The data access gives ICE agents the capability of using a historical search that would show every place a certain license plate has been seen during the last five years — including a record of a target’s movements. Data also can be used to find a person’s residence and identify cars of those associated with the target.
ICE explored getting access to a similar database in 2014 but canceled the request due to privacy concerns and then conducted a privacy impact assessment, something in which the new contract must comply, according to officials.
The source of the data is not named in the contract, but an ICE representative said the data came from Vigilant Solutions, the leading network for license plate recognition data.
“Like most other law enforcement agencies, ICE uses information obtained from license plate readers as one tool in support of its investigations,” spokesperson Dani Bennett said in a statement. “ICE is not seeking to build a license plate reader database, and will not collect nor contribute any data to a national public or private database through this contract.”
While it collects few photos itself, Vigilant Solutions has amassed a database of more than 2 billion license plate photos by ingesting data from partners like vehicle repossession agencies and other private groups.
Vigilant also partners with local law enforcement agencies, often collecting even more data from camera-equipped police cars. The result is a massive vehicle-tracking network generating as many as 100 million sightings per month, each tagged with a date, time, and GPS coordinates of the sighting.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
January 28th, 2018