ICE Use Facebook to Find Immigrant Suspects

The illicit use of data mined from Facebook has generated headlines lately, but now a new report from The Intercept has accused Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of also using Facebook data to locate and track suspected undocumented immigrants in the US.

The report cites a case in which backend Facebook data was used by ICE to determine whether a suspect’s account had been accessed, and the IP addresses that corresponded to those logins. This data was allegedly combined with other records that are routinely used by agents, including the likes of telephone records, to determine the immigrant’s location. The Intercept story joins the Cambridge Analytica scandal in raising serious questions about data privacy on Facebook, but ICE using such data is not against the law.

According to The Intercept, the Stored Communications Act allows law enforcement to request information be given to them by third-party record holders, such as Facebook. This point was corroborated by Facebook, which told The Intercept that valid legal process was sent to them by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of an investigation allegedly involving a child predator and that that request was responded to with the use of data that was consistent with their data disclosure records, which are publically available.

But, Facebook refutes the claim that the data was used to spot an immigration law violation, claiming that special data access designed to help with immigration enforcement is not given to ICE or any agency connected with law enforcement.