Since 2016, over 400 US Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees and contractors have faced investigations for abusing confidential law enforcement databases and computers. The alleged misconduct ranges from stalking and harassment to sharing information with criminals.
Vital Tools or Subversion of Law?
Even though ICE claims these databases are essential for law enforcement, investigation records obtained by the news outlet WIRED show that the information in those databases has been used to subvert the law. ICE employees have allegedly exploited their access to sensitive information, including medical, biometric, and location data, for personal schemes and vendettas.
Of the 414 investigated cases, nearly half were considered serious misconduct, with 109 cases substantiated or referred to management after internal investigations. Examples include a special agent who traded information for gifts from a Columbian drug trafficker and an ICE attorney stealing immigrants’ identities to defraud credit card companies.
ICE Officials Offer ‘Bad Apples’ Argument, Experts Push Back
While an ICE official claims the presence of a few “bad apples” is inevitable, legal experts and privacy advocates argue that the issue is more widespread. Erik Garcia, an organizer and program manager with the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, says ICE agents’ abuse of confidential databases is part of a culture of unchecked power.
Concerns Over ICE’s Access to Data Sets
Due to ICE’s access to federal, state, local, and private data sets, experts are particularly concerned about how an agency with a history of misconduct could abuse these tools. Nina Wang, a policy associate at the Center on Privacy & Technology, says the access to bulk data leaves the door wide open for misconduct.
Read more at Wired.com