ICE license plate recognition
The Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) got access to a huge database that monitors the license plates throughout the country. The contract will allow the use of vehicle information for the agency’s investigations of undocumented immigrants and other foreigners with criminal records.
An ICE spokeswoman, Dani Bennett, explained by email to Univision Noticias that the contracted service will serve as “a support tool for investigations”, both in civil immigration cases and in criminal searches.
The immigration agency explains that the contract is with the firm TRSS, which works together to provide this service with Vigilant Solutions, the company with the largest national database of license plates.
The company accumulates billions of data that come from several local security agencies and private car companies, according to The Verge, the first means of reporting the contract. Each month they generate about 100 million findings, with the date, time and place by GPS in which the car was seen.
ICE agents will be able to follow the movements of a car license plate in the last five years , which can give clues to someone’s home, the places they frequent, or even related people.
ICE researchers can also receive messages at the moment by email of some plates in particular, if they are part of the so-called ‘hot list’ of cars, always according to The Verge.
The immigration agency stresses that it will be a unidirectional service. That is, ICE will be able to access the auto plates available in the contracted database, but will not provide new license numbers to the national system. “ICE is not looking to build a database of license plates,” the spokeswoman said by email.
The idea of hiring a database of license plates had been pending for years in the offices of the Immigration Service. Other security agencies in the country use them, and even contribute with new vehicle data.
The spokeswoman explains that a similar public call was canceled in 2014 due to doubts surrounding privacy when using this technology. In 2015, the institution updated its security requirements, but another contest was rejected due to a disagreement in the price.