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The data broker allegedly sold personal info to immigration authorities.
The data broker allegedly sold personal info to immigration authorities. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Immigration advocates sue LexisNexis for selling personal info to third parties, including immigration authorities

Filed by two advocacy groups & other activists, allege the databroker violated Illinois law by collecting & selling personal data to authorities.

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Advocacy groups along with individual activists filed a lawsuit against data broker LexisNexis Risk Solutions on Tuesday, Aug. 16 in Cook County Illinois, the second-most populous country in the United States that includes Chicago. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos make up more than 26% of Cook County’s 5.17 million residents. 

The suit alleges that the data broker violated state law by collecting and combining a substantial amount of personal information and selling it to third parties, which includes federal immigration authorities, further facilitating the job of ICE. The plaintiffs argue that the result of such an action is “a grave threat to civil liberties.”

“Our plaintiffs view this alleged violation of their privacy as dehumanizing and unacceptable,” said Sejal Zota, one of the attorney’s in the lawsuit, who is also the legal director at Just Futures Law, the firm taking on the case. 

She added that LexisNexis makes ICE’s job a lot easier by allowing them to “instantly access sensitive personal data — all without warrants, subpoenas, any privacy safeguards or any show of reasonableness.” 

The suit also notes that one of LexisNexis’ products, Accurint, which they exclusively sell to law enforcement, contains information not publicly available such as vehicle collision records, databases for license plate readers, and correctional bookings. 

It also shed light on a $22 million contract between the data broker and ICE for the product, which was supposed to be for law enforcement. That was revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request, but it argues that the contract for the product poses no threat to immigrants. 

In the complaint: “There is a critical difference between the gathering of bits of personal information through publicly available resources (the internet, court files, archives, etc.) and the collection of information through an encyclopedic dossier that compiles all of the records,

including ones that are not publicly available, into one easily accessible and computerized profile.” 

The information that was collected and sold to authorities includes date of births, addresses, incorrect social security numbers, amongst other private information made readily available to organizations, such as ICE and other immigrant federal authorities. 

A similar lawsuit exists in California at the moment. Data broker Thomson Reuters was accused of similar allegations of collecting and selling private information of people to third parties like government, law enforcement, and immigration agencies. 

Antonio Guiterrez, the strategic coordinator and co-founder of Organized Communities Against Deportation, one of the organizations that signed onto the lawsuit, said in part, that the reason they signed onto it was because they see data broker companies like LexisNexis as a way for organizations like ICE to go around certain limits set against them and the information they are legally able to collect. Policies to stop such actions have taken years of fighting and advocacy to get passed, only for them to be ignored. 

“We just wondered ‘How do we fight this? The entity that needs to be accountable for how they’re operating is LexisNexis,” said Gutierrez.

Advocacy groups along with individual activists filed a lawsuit against data broker LexisNexis Risk Solutions on Tuesday, Aug. 16 in Cook County Illinois, the second-most populous country in the United States that includes Chicago. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos make up more than 26% of Cook County’s 5.17 million residents. 

The suit alleges that the data broker violated state law by collecting and combining a substantial amount of personal information and selling it to third parties, which includes federal immigration authorities, further facilitating the job of ICE. The plaintiffs argue that the result of such an action is “a grave threat to civil liberties.”

“Our plaintiffs view this alleged violation of their privacy as dehumanizing and unacceptable,” said Sejal Zota, one of the attorney’s in the lawsuit, who is also the legal director at Just Futures Law, the firm taking on the case. 

She added that LexisNexis makes ICE’s job a lot easier by allowing them to “instantly access sensitive personal data — all without warrants, subpoenas, any privacy safeguards or any show of reasonableness.” 

The suit also notes that one of LexisNexis’ products, Accurint, which they exclusively sell to law enforcement, contains information not publicly available such as vehicle collision records, databases for license plate readers, and correctional bookings. 

It also shed light on a $22 million contract between the data broker and ICE for the product, which was supposed to be for law enforcement. That was revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request, but it argues that the contract for the product poses no threat to immigrants. 

In the complaint: “There is a critical difference between the gathering of bits of personal information through publicly available resources (the internet, court files, archives, etc.) and the collection of information through an encyclopedic dossier that compiles all of the records,

including ones that are not publicly available, into one easily accessible and computerized profile.” 

The information that was collected and sold to authorities includes date of births, addresses, incorrect social security numbers, amongst other private information made readily available to organizations, such as ICE and other immigrant federal authorities. 

A similar lawsuit exists in California at the moment. Data broker Thomson Reuters was accused of similar allegations of collecting and selling private information of people to third parties like government, law enforcement, and immigration agencies. 

Antonio Guiterrez, the strategic coordinator and co-founder of Organized Communities Against Deportation, one of the organizations that signed onto the lawsuit, said in part, that the reason they signed onto it was because they see data broker companies like LexisNexis as a way for organizations like ICE to go around certain limits set against them and the information they are legally able to collect. Policies to stop such actions have taken years of fighting and advocacy to get passed, only for them to be ignored. 

“We just wondered ‘How do we fight this? The entity that needs to be accountable for how they’re operating is LexisNexis,” said Gutierrez.

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