Ubiquitous Surveillance by ICE

Report by Georgetown’s Center on Privacy and Technology published a comprehensive report on the surprising amount of mass surveillance conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Our two-year investigation, including hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests and a comprehensive review of ICE’s contracting and procurement records, reveals that ICE now operates as a domestic surveillance agency. Since its founding in 2003, ICE has not only been building its own capacity to use surveillance to carry out deportations but has also played a key role in the federal government’s larger push to amass as much information as possible about all of our lives. By reaching into the digital records of state and local governments and buying databases with billions of data points from private companies, ICE has created a surveillance infrastructure that enables it to pull detailed dossiers on nearly anyone, seemingly at any time. In its efforts to arrest and deport, ICE has ­ without any judicial, legislative or public oversight ­ reached into datasets containing personal information about the vast majority of people living in the U.S., whose records can end up in the hands of immigration enforcement simply because they apply for driver’s licenses; drive on the roads; or sign up with their local utilities to get access to heat, water and electricity.

ICE has built its dragnet surveillance system by crossing legal and ethical lines, leveraging the trust that people place in state agencies and essential service providers, and exploiting the vulnerability of people who volunteer their information to reunite with their families. Despite the incredible scope and evident civil rights implications of ICE’s surveillance practices, the agency has managed to shroud those practices in near-total secrecy, evading enforcement of even the handful of laws and policies that could be invoked to impose limitations. Federal and state lawmakers, for the most part, have yet to confront this reality.

Posted on July 7, 2022 at 1:18 PM15 Comments


Ted July 7, 2022 1:54 PM

@Bruce, I’m curious if something compelled you to post this report today. I believe you may have posted it prior. It is a really great report by Georgetown.

Harry Potter July 7, 2022 2:40 PM

Old news. I initially thought it could be mass surveillance by In Car Entertainment systems, also guilty. Good investigative report.

John July 7, 2022 3:14 PM


Hard to see how this makes USA more competitive with what we make.


Clive Robinson July 7, 2022 3:56 PM

@ ALL,

It might be “old news” to some but to many it’s been deliberately kept from their view in various questionable ways.

ICE is unfortunately an agency that has too much power and damn near zero effective oversight which has unfortunate side effects. Many of the people involved are shall we say either cognatively biased to “might is right” or are basically more than a few rungs up the ladder of “Dark mental disabilities” that are incurable and in a number of cases inheritable.

Thus they see no wrong in what they do, nor do their superiors or political masters who make the old nonsense claims of “for the common good” or “think of the children” nonsense where as in reality is all they are thinking about is how to rise further in the cesspit their organisation has very actively become in certain areas.

Now the problem with this, which people should be very mindful of is,

“This is not just the leading edge of unlawful behaviour, it is the thin edge of the wedge, that is being relentlessly driven forward”.

What will happen is,

1, If caught early enough, it will get increased oversight that in this day an age will probably at best be inefectual.

2, If left for too long before being caught, then it will be a political embarrassment, that these days is made to go away by passing legislation that turns the unlawful into the lawful and probably an increase in funding, especially by those who claim they want “small government”.

Thus with 2 comes the out sourcing to private Corps like Palantir to the considerable profit and total lack of oversight the “small government” types want.

The result will be extreamly harmful to society, but for some reason to many can not, will not or won’t be bothered to think it through.

Thus the US voter will sleepwalk into yet another cage/trap from which, extraction will be very difficult at best.

Don’t say you’ve not been warned, and don’t stick your head under the covers.

Oh and don’t think this is just the US with this problem, the UK has it atleast as bad if not worse, but less obvious.

Bownse July 8, 2022 10:50 AM

Another Executive Branch agency over reaching their Constitutional restraints as noted by the SCotUS last week. Seems the EB got caught with their hand in the “checks and balances” cookie jar for this too.

Jose July 10, 2022 4:40 PM

Well, if there weren’t so many illegal aliens living in this country and illegally crossing the border daily, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Hopefully you understand that because they are counted in the census they actually affect our presidential elections, right?

The fact is, that if all of these so-called migrants want to live here, then great! But stand in line, fill out the forms, pay the fees, be vetted as to your identity (and any diseases you may have) and wait your turn. To allow anything less is to spit on everyone who actually followed the rules.


MarkH July 10, 2022 6:14 PM


It’s truth, that if the U.S. had a more functional immigration system, there wouldn’t be so much pressure on enforcement.

Law enforcement is easier without the Bill of Rights. Genuine patriotism — and fidelity to Federal oaths of office — requires that enforcement personnel and institutions doing the hard, grueling labor of doing their best to fulfill their missions, without treating the Constitution like toilet paper.

Policing is so much easier in a police state. I guarantee you, that gain of convenience is never worth its cost to a republic aspiring to the preservation of liberty.

Winter July 11, 2022 2:19 AM


Well, if there weren’t so many illegal aliens living in this country and illegally crossing the border daily, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

If it weren’t for Americans using illegal aliens as workers without rights to lower wages of legal workers, you would not in this mess. But you would also have to pay more for US grown and processed food and meat.

JonKnowsNothing July 11, 2022 7:02 AM

@ Winter, @Jose, @MarkH, @All

re: Low paid cheap human labor

This is not just a USA problem. Nearly every country imports cheap underpaid labor from another country that has an even lower pay scale.

The first to cry are the Big Ag Producers. They are helpless to harvest their own crops and rely on imported “temp visa” holders (sometimes the visa part is ignored) to do the harvesting.

It isn’t just from countries of color; it’s places like Poland and Ukraine that the UK, Scotland and the rest of the EU bring in, to do “stoop labor” at “cut rate prices” with as many “clawbacks” for cost-recovery, like visa applications, as possible.

Big Ag is all keen to fly them in to harvest strawberries in Scotland but less keen to pay their way home. When a few escape from their forced labor camp at remote farms and “blow the whistle” on “bad labor practices”, they get met with the UK Compliantly Hostile-Environment.

Every country has a Compliantly Hostile-Environment Policy, only the letters shift about.

That’s an example; it goes on around the world.

Australia imports their cheap labor workers. NZ imports cheap labor workers. China imports cheap labor workers. The USA imports a lot of them, not just for Ag work but the Health Care Industry would fall down without them. These are the cleaners and gardeners and care givers and laundry folks that let “the infirm” live in institutional settings.

In the USA, we hardly even notice them and walk by without seeing them. They are the ones emptying the waste baskets in Silicon Valley, and vacuuming the carpets in the Executive Suites.

If they are a bit luckier, they get to set the gold-plated service ware, Damask Table Cloths with full layout, in the Executive Dining Rooms (1), after which they get to chop up 4 50lb bags of onions in precisely “this size” for the Executive Chef.


1) How do I know? I have seen them. These dining rooms are not on the standard pathway for any, except the most senior members of corporations. The CEO eats there and their personal chef fixes the meal Just So. One should not be surprised that the CEOs and VIPs and Grand Personages do not eat with the Staff.

The USA may be glued to historical dress up stories from the UK, but the reality was nothing at all like that to live through. Folks in the USA would just as soon forget they or their fore-bearers ever had to do “that work”.

Tableware / Formal Place Settings

ht tps://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Tableware

(url lightly fractured)

Winter July 11, 2022 7:59 AM


It isn’t just from countries of color; it’s places like Poland and Ukraine that the UK, Scotland and the rest of the EU bring in, to do “stoop labor” at “cut rate prices” with as many “clawbacks” for cost-recovery, like visa applications, as possible.

Movement within the EU does not require visa’s. People from eastern European EU countries who want to work in the West of the EU can do so without visa. Currently, Ukrainians can do so too.

The winning argument for Brexit was that it would allow the British to make the Poles etc. illegal immigrants again. The result being that large sectors of the UK economy ground to a halt for lack of workers.

Illegal immigrants can more easily work in Southern EU countries. The Northern countries make a more convincing effort to block that. The result being a lack of hands to do the work.

Tatütata July 11, 2022 8:53 AM


My most recent visit to Blighty was in the noughties, near the end of Tony Bliar’s tenure.

I was shocked by an ad campaign, which I understand is still running in one form or another. (And yes, there were more like it by the warmonger’s successors, including that pathetic clinging clown.)

My usual photo posting site seems to be gone, so I’ll describe the picture I took.

Bills posted at locations such as bus stops represented some letters that had fallen on a doormat from the mail slot. The one visible on top is some energy bill, partially covering another from a “Job Centre Plus”. Some sort of white halo seems to be projected onto them, as if they were being scanned or targeted.

The text reads as follows:

Technology has made it easier to identify benefit cheats.
We can compare all sorts of information. So if you’re not completely honest, we’ll find out.

We’re on to you

DWP Department for Work and Pensions
National Benefit Fraud Hotline 0800 xxxxx


There is a lot to unpack about this message… Reminded me of a French essay of that period titled “La régulation des pauvres”. It doesn’t seem to have been translated, but an English rendition would be “Of regulating the poor”, and discusses the public policies to achieve that end.

To keep it short, in a City known for its opaque financial sector, its tax “optimisation” specialists, and its population of disreputable gazillionaires, the state wants you to know who the real enemies are, and that it is building a data panopticon to fight it. For your own good, of course.

They’re bragging about it!

Winter July 11, 2022 9:53 AM


Technology has made it easier to identify benefit cheats.

The drive to criminalize poverty and the poor is old and world-wide. Receiving any benefits is treated as a likely crime. In earlier times, begging was (and still is) criminalized under the same policy.

This is the Market religion of “Succes is a choice, failure is a crime”.

Clive Robinson July 11, 2022 2:40 PM

@ Tatütata, Winter,

Re : Politicians blaiming the victim

With regards,


The two biggest causes of benifit fraud have been found to be,

1, Inside the DWP.
2, In the private housing sector.

It’s difficult to get figures but about 60% of the money that supposadly goes to that system actually goes to fraud.

About 25% of the money that supposadly goes to that system is spent on “staff” running costs.

They get very large sums of money for basically stupid ideas supposadly that will save money… When they are all a political nonsense designed to push money out to certain “favourd friends” who then kick a tiny fraction back into so called “political donations” some of which go to “party coffers” the rest to “candidates” either as “office and election” funds or mysteriously into other things like getting paid 50,000 to give a talk, or 5,000 for an hour sitting on some board…

You may remember the largest ever ICT project was the UK Health Service Spine, a computer system that was going to revolutionize the NHS and was not going to fail because of all the protective measures put in place and was going to cost 12,000,000,000.

Well it failed, not only did all the money disapear, apparently there was no clause in contracts about “Intellectual Property” so a great big pile of “monkey farts” was what the country got. BT was a massive beneficiary of this and it made their near usless managment look good for half a decade.

But it gets worse you remember that worm that attacked all those Micro$haft OS’s including Win XP that M$ had tried to blackmail billions out of people for continued maintainence (even though the NT kernel hardly ever changes in any way)

Well M$ actually went down to the point it offered the UK Dept of Health that effectively owns the NHS a 5,000,000 deal, that is the equivalent at the time of about $1 for every user of the NHS services. Basically a very good deal…

But the Minister in charge of the Dept of Health despite all the advice saying take it, said no for political mantra reasons, oh and he eas probably not going to get any kick back…

It became known via the press that the Minister concerned via various trusts etc had in that year earnt over £100,000,000 and nobody could say if any tax had been paid on it, it’s assumed not, or at best token.

These are the sort of self entitled people running the country and they are still there…

You might have heard that the UK Prime Minster has been told by his party he has to go… Well one of the candidates to replace him has put all of his “non salary earnings” into his Non-Dom wifes hands and as far as we can tell that is £4,000,000,000 that is not being taxed or in any other way being treated like a normal citizens income would be.

If you were to ask me are their “benift cheats” getting “to much” out of the DWP, the answer would be yes, mistakes do get made. But by far the majority of mistakes are shall we say very very much in favour of the DWP by a factor of atleast 10:1 from what can be worked out from things like court figures.

The reality is as @JonKnowsNothing has pointed out the system is ment not just to hold money back, but to criminalize and harass oh and regularly drive people to sever ill health including mental health and suicide. I doubt there is a day goes by where a UK Benifit claiment through no fault of their own has died prematurely because of the DWP actions.

But as George Orwell pointed out 75years or more ago a pointless, and usless government needs an “Enemy” to blaim everything onto to cover up their own self entitlement. If you check every UK Minister in Tony Blair’s Government and every Tory Government since, every single one of them shows the clear signs of the Dark Quintet we discussed just yesterday of,

1, Machiavellinsm
2, Narcissism
3, Sociopathy
4, Psychopathy
5, Sadism

Some are not even “high functioning” as lets be honest they would not get caught as often as they do.

Back in Tony Blair’s scandle days a well known television presenter and editor of a satirical magazine (Private Eye) pointed out that in fact Politicians were four times more likely to go to jail –even with all their privileges– than ordinary citizens (who are usually “Rights Stripped” in various ways to be at a considerable disadvantage so any assets they have can also be stripped from them).

But hey that’s what,

1, Capitalism (neo-con style)
2, Free Markets (hidden hand controling style).

Get you, especially in what is in effect a two party state, where both sides are bought…

If people thought HIP-RIP was a shock then they should realise it is only the snow ontop of the tip of the iceberg, but hey don’t take my word for it, go out and check for yourself.

JonKnowsNothing July 11, 2022 4:16 PM

@ Clive , @ Tatütata, @ Winter, @All

re: Counting: 1 for you, 3 for me. None for you, All for Me


In my state in the USA, there have been many audits “looking for fraud” in the system. The outcomes of numerous reviews, is that the vast majority of funding is used exactly as prescribed. This may cause a few eyebrows to raise, but the common view of what “everyone knows”, is “everyone knows wrong”.

The primary places that any “odd stuff” happens is when large sums of funds transfer to corporations in return for “massed services”. Companies in this area can fall into several categories:

  • A small benefits oriented program that uses “grant writing” to get funds to enable the service. Often these are smaller organizations, often with unpaid volunteers and the programs are funded for 1-5 years. Then the program dies because of the way “grant writing” funding happens. It’s hard to get consistent follow on funds.
  • A very large corporation or conglomerate that offers big discounts in return for big “capitation fees” up front payments. This is discounted cash per capita population value and is used in many benefits programs in the USA and other countries. Sometimes called a Stake Holder in the UK. The corporation promises to provide the service to N-population at ( ($A – Y$discount) * N-population)) for a gob-smacking total but that total is much less (Y$discount) than the full retail cost would be.

It’s often found later that the terms of service contract(s) provided a funding off ramp to omit or under serve the targeted population. Lag in the system, delays in service, reduced offerings, less effective treatments and an “early departure into eternity” for individuals in that population. (1)

Food insecurity & hunger, lack of adequate long term housing, lack of education, lack of paid work (work for the dole / zero hours contract / mutual obligations), lack of career path to better paying work, individually have a low incidence of fraud.

There isn’t anything there to begin with. (2) (3)


1) My current favorite No Treatment Non Treatment option is: “Watchful Waiting”.

This is when the System says “We are monitoring the condition”; translated means: You are SOL.

2) To qualify for many support programs (USA), an individual’s income must be less than $1300/month. The threshold and ceiling varies by program. The amount of award varies based on the income. This is called “Means Testing”.

  • In 2021, the average social security payment to a male retiree was 1,838.08 U.S. dollars per month
  • In 2021, the average female retiree received an average payment of 1,483.75 U.S. dollars per month

3) A common document now required to be signed in return for any services provided, is an “assignment for and recapture of all expenses provided to you since enrollment”, in the event you win the Lottery.

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