According to a recent report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), some Californian shopping centers appear to be providing data to a national license plate reader network linked to the Immigration and Customs Authority (ICE).
The report focuses on Irvine Company Retail Properties, which operates a series of open-air malls in southeastern Los Angeles. Irvine Company has been an active customer of Vigilant Solutions since at least 2016, by posting data to the Vigilant network and related law enforcement agencies, according to a publication on the company's website.
Reached by The Verge The Irvine Company confirmed that license data was collected at three shopping centers in Orange County, but insisted that data only be passed on to local agencies. "Vigilant is contractually required and has assured us that ALPR data collected at these sites will only be communicated to local law enforcement agencies as part of their local community safety efforts," the company said in a statement.
However, the data outside the corporations could get into the hands of ICE, who had previously signed an agency-wide contract with Vigilant, as Dave Maass of EFF said The Verge " they share with Vigilant, and then Vigilant can do what it wants. "
Vigilant Solutions was built on a private network of license plate readers from retail stores like the Irvine Company, but it has found success in selling access to law enforcement agencies data sharing with some 3,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, including departments in New York, Chicago and Dallas, Vigilant's network processes an estimated 1
Reached by The Verge leaned ICE made any specific data sharing agreement, but emphasized that the Vigilant will be used. The database was prepared according to the Agency's 2015 Impact Assessment. "Like most other law enforcement agencies, ICE uses information provided by license plate readers as a tool in support of its investigations," said one representative. "ICE conducts both criminal investigations and civil immigration investigations, and ICE does not attempt to set up a license plate database and will not collect or contribute data to a national public or private database."
Vigilant Solutions denied the EFF Report and called him "inaccurate and reasoned, not fact." The company has not set out any specific inaccuracies in the report.
The EFF has already asked the Irvine Company to stop sharing data with Vigilant. "By monitoring the site and working with Vigilant Solutions," the report said, "the company is not only risking immigrants, but also interfering with the privacy of its customers by allowing third parties to store their data indefinitely." Update 6:50 PM ET: Updated with a Statement from Vigilant Solutions
Update 9:48 PM ET: Updated with a statement from Irvine Company, with various changes to the company's position reflect.