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KPBS Midday Edition

ICE's digital surveillance reaches far and wide, report finds

This photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows foreign nationals being arrested this week during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Feb. 7, 2017.
Charles Reed / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
/
Associated Press
This photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows foreign nationals being arrested this week during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Feb. 7, 2017.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has created a vast digital surveillance program, one that captures data from immigrants and citizens alike. That's the finding from a recent report by the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law School.

"ICE has access to a staggering amount of data about all residents in the U.S.," said Allison McDonald, research fellow at the Center on Privacy & Technology and co-author of the report. The data ICE collected comes from both public and private sources, including from utility companies and DMVs.

McDonald joined Midday Edition Tuesday to talk about some of the findings from the two-year investigation.

"The result of ICE having access to these is that folks are going to be less likely to get their driver's licenses, which makes roads less safe. If folks are worried about their doctor or the hospital turning over their personal information to ICE, they're going to be less likely to go to the hospital. The chilling effects that this has on communities across the board is really, really terrifying," McDonald said.

One conclusion of the report is that laws need to be put in place to better protect digital privacy.

"The laws that are in place are completely insufficient to protect this data," McDonald said.