Thomson Reuters Foundation, the parent company of the newswire service, Reuters, has come under heat for having a multimillion contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, an Intercept investigation has revealed.
According to the Intercept's investigation, as part of a federal contract nearing US$30 million, Thomson Reuters Special Services has been supplying ICE with data, such as the "identification and location of aliens" from its reserves.
The foundation along with the West Publishing, a subsidiary, has been providing ICE’s "Detention Compliance and Removals" wing a "continuous monitoring and alert service that provides real-time jail booking data to support the identification and location of aliens."
The transmitted information also contains access to a vast license-plate scanning database and agency access to the Consolidated Lead Evaluation and Reporting, or CLEAR, system, which Thomson Reuters advertises as holding a "vast collection of public and proprietary records." The two West Publishing contracts are together worth US$26 million, the Intercept reported.
Last week, Privacy International, a London-based advocacy and watchdog group, wrote a letter to Thomson Reuters CEO James Smith expressing grave concern over the issue.
Citing Trump's catch and detain policy along with the ICE-led recent separation of thousands of immigrant children from their families as part of the U.S. president's "zero tolerance" approach to immigration violations, the letter urged Thomson Reuters to "commit to not providing products or services to U.S. immigration agencies which may be used to enforce such cruel, arbitrary, and disproportionate measures."
Thomson Reuters Special Services CEO Stephen Rubley, who is on the board of the ICE Foundation, a nonprofit that ‘supports the men and women of ICE," responded to the letter stating that his parent company "provides products and services to many parts of the U.S. government in support of the rule of law."
In a report published last week, in which NBC News pointed out tech companies' compliance with ICE, shed light on Thomson Reuters' role.
"[Thomson Reuters Special Services] supplies data to ICE in support of its work on active criminal investigations with the explicit purpose to focus resources on priority cases involving threats to public safety and/or national security,” the company told NBC News in a statement.
"Thomson Reuters spokesperson insisted Reuters’ newsgathering is "completely independent of any [of] our commercial relationships." The company declined to comment on the Trump administration’s child separation policy," the outlet further reported.
Privacy International has made another attempt through a second letter, demanding a proper response from the foundation, pointing out that so far the company has not been able to "address any of our specific questions," and that Privacy International is "disappointed to have so far not received a response from West Publishing Corporation, or from Thomson Reuters itself."