A $13 million dollardata broker contract running from 2015 to 2020 between the West Publishing division of Thomson Reuters and Homeland Security Investigations/ICE has come to light. This proposed contract is an additional one that predates a September 2016 contract between Thomson Reuters and ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations.
Thomson Reuters is a multinational corporation based in Canada. Among its products is the news wire copy service Reuters, which provides news headlines and content to most US media outlets, and Westlaw legal research products, used by most law schools and many of the nation’s attorneys and private investigators.
The contract states: “This action is to request the approval to procure database information to identify criminal suspects, businesses and assets of targets of investigations for potential arrest, seizure and forfeiture. These database services shall be obtained from West Publishing Corporation. West Publishing Corporation is the only known source capable of providing the required information. This information will be used by ICE/HSI/AFU offices located not only in Washington, D.C. but also in 26 SAC offices and multiple RAC offices throughout the United States and US territories”.
The contract goes on to state: “The Government’s requirement is that the database must be able to interface with FALCON Palantir systems. West Publishing Corporation’s CLEAR program offers a system to system (S2S) connection that merges CLEAR public and proprietary data with Palantir analytical information to narrow in and locate persons and assets of interest”.
Palantir is the technology company owned by Paypal founder Peter Thiel, a vocal supporter of Donald Trump. Palantir, a data analytics company, was originally backed by venture capital from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The company’s FALCON product is for HSI/ICE “to secure information sharing with other law enforcement agencies in real-time to include Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Custom & Border Protection (CBP), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), National Counterterrorism Center (NCC), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). This will give ICE an open platform that will be interoperable and have the ability to cross use capabilities such as federated search, mapping and geospatial capability, unstructured search function, visual linking with these agencies and also have the capability to fully scale the solution to enable large entity exchange (e.g. petabytes of data) between our agencies” (per a 2013 funding document secured by The Intercept). The same document confirms that ICE ERO (the Enforcement and Removal Operations division that focuses on civil immigration enforcement, not crimimal cases) uses FALCON.
A recently leaked HSI/ICE asset forfeiture manual exposed some of the scope of the asset forfeiture program operated by the federal agency. Under equitable sharing rules, HSI/ICE asset forfeiture revenues are shared with participating local police departments, who then use the money to purchase military-style gear and equipment. More than 90% of the equitable sharing asset forfeiture funds distributed to local law enforcement agencies from the Department of Homeland Security came from HSI/ICE.
For media outlets, the ramifications of having the news delivered by ICE’s data broker by subscribing to the Reuters wire service, is discussed here. Law schools and legal clinics, as well as attorneys and private investigators who use WestLaw products, will also have to grapple with the consequences of funding the ramped-up Trump deportation machine and civil asset forfeiture programs.LSJ_Final