The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has apparently entered into a contract with Vigilant Solutions, giving ICE agents access to data on more than 2 billion license plates, an agency representative told The Verge.
Vigilant Solutions is a private company that uses partnerships with local law enforcement agencies to gather data from police car cameras, resulting in some 100 million recorded license plate sightings a month. That plate information comes tagged with "a date, time, and GPS coordinates," The Verge writes, meaning that with its contract, ICE can search the database to find "every place a given license plate has been spotted in the last five years." Additionally, if ICE agents want to track a particular car, they can receive phone or email alerts whenever that specific plate is spotted on a Vigilant Solutions-partnered camera.
An assessment by the Department of Homeland Security found that such a database is important for ICE because when "other leads have gone cold," information about the "previous locations of a vehicle can help determine the whereabouts of subjects of criminal investigations or priority aliens to facilitate their interdiction and removal."
Of course, Vigilant Solutions is also pulling in data on billions of license plates that don't belong to undocumented immigrants. "Are we as a society, out of our desire to find those people, willing to let our government create an infrastructure that will track all of us?" asked ACLU policy analyst Jay Stanley.