While many of us like to joke about how certain things we do, like buying guns, will land us on a government database, the reality is that many of our personal details are already in a government database. And it’s one that you might not expect.
Even worse is that even our movements may be tracked and stored in this same database. And hardly anyone knows anything about it.
If you thought this database was controlled by the Department of Justice or the FBI or the CIA, you’d be wrong. And if you thought it was run by the Department of Homeland Security, you’d only be partially correct.
This database is run by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and it has data on most Americans. Three-quarters of Americans’ driver’s license information is in this database. At least one third of driver’s licenses have been scanned using facial recognition technology. And ICE tracks car movements in cities that are home to almost 75% of Americans.
If you live in a large to mid-sized metropolitan area, there’s a good chance that your personal information is in this database. Whenever state and local governments have tried to keep ICE from getting information from government databases, the agency has done end runs around them, going instead to private firms that hoover up personal information.
What exactly is ICE planning to do with all this information that it has acquired on so many people? It’s anyone’s guess, but it’s dangerous and something that shouldn’t be tolerated. The potential for abuse or misuse is there, assuming the database isn’t already being hacked or misused already.
This is something that civil liberties advocates have warned about for years, that cracking down on immigration necessarily means surveilling non-immigrants as well. Innocent Americans could end up suffering as a result of the government’s attempts to track immigrants. And this is why, if Americans really want to crack down on illegal immigration, we need to strike at the root causes, and not engage in actions that ensnare American citizens who have done nothing wrong.