Activists Sue LexisNexis for Mass Collection and Sale of Personal Data of Millions
Today, Mijente, Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), and three local activists sued the multinational company, LexisNexis, over its mass collection and sale of Illinoisans’ data without their consent. The lawsuit alleges that the company’s technology violates privacy and consumer protection rights and facilitates government surveillance and tracking of protestors, immigrants, and other communities of color using information that generally could not be obtained without a warrant, subpoena, or court order. The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County by Just Futures Law and Legal Action Chicago alleging that LexisNexis violated Plaintiffs’ rights under Illinois’ consumer protection and common law.
“Immigrant communities have fought hard to protect the rights of immigrants and our families for years. Illinois has been a leader in protecting immigrant rights, but companies like LexisNexis are abusing their power and are profiting by putting families in danger,” said Claudia Marchan, plaintiff and resident of Cook County. “I was able to see how LexisNexis collected my information and has now created a database that discloses my personal life in a 46-page document that includes my full social security number. LexisNexis has even gone further to package these databases and sell them, putting immigrants like myself at risk.”
“LexisNexis is making millions by selling sensitive personal data to law enforcement, including ICE,” said Sejal Zota, Legal Director of Just Futures Law. “It is deeply alarming how the government is exploiting legal loopholes to obtain America’s most sensitive information without a warrant, subpoenas, or any legal process whatsoever. LexisNexis’ unethical practices as the middleman for ICE aid the deportation and separation of our immigrant community members–and we intend to put a stop to it.”
“The kind of data being ingested and repackaged here is deeply alarming: names, addresses, emails, marriage records, Facebook profiles, property records, phone numbers, DMV records—all the digital breadcrumbs that we leave behind in our daily lives,” said Cinthya Rodriguez, national organizer with Mijente #NoTechforICE campaign. “And now ICE has access to all this granular data because private companies like LexisNexis, in violation of privacy laws, are making millions collecting and selling it to them.”
“We have directly experienced how surveillance, data collection, and interactions with law enforcement result in mass incarceration and terrorization of our community,” said Antonio Gutierrez, Strategic Coordinator for OCAD. “LexisNexis is violating individuals' privacy rights by providing addresses, phone numbers, relatives names, and more through the data being sold to agencies like ICE without their permission.
“LexisNexis must stop its illegal use of our plaintiffs’ personal data,” said Dinesh McCoy, Staff Attorney at Just Futures Law. “Most people never even know LexisNexis is selling their information without consent, and it’s past time that LexisNexis ends its illegal data practices.”
LexisNexis is one of the world’s biggest aggregators of personal and commercial data. It amasses millions of records from the most intimate corners of people’s lives, and then sells those profiles without consent to hundreds of thousands of private companies, government agencies, and law enforcement agencies, including ICE.
LexisNexis currently has a $22.1 million contract with ICE to provide a database of personal information to the agency. LexisNexis’s sharing of data provides ICE access to vast databases of personal information from both public and private sources—names, addresses, social security numbers, license plate images, cell phone records, drivers license information, court records, jail booking data, bankruptcy records, business associations, and much more.
Back in June, documents obtained by Just Futures Law revealed that ICE has searched LexisNexis’ database more than one million times over a six month period between March and September 2021, ostensibly to execute deportations and separate families across the country.
Just Futures Law is a transformative legal organization that defends and builds the power of immigrants’ rights and criminal justice organizers and base-building community groups working to disrupt and dismantle our deportation and mass incarceration systems.
Mijente is a national Latinx and Chicanx advocacy organization that leads the #NoTechforICE campaign, which has exposed the deep ties between Silicon Valley and immigration enforcement in an effort to end the contracts between tech companies and ICE or CBP.
Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) is a group of undocumented, unapologetic, and unafraid organizers building a resistance movement against deportations and the criminalization of immigrants and people of color in Chicago and surrounding areas.
Legal Action Chicago is a Chicago-based non-profit organization that, through class action litigation and legislative advocacy, seeks to promote racial equity and improve policies that affect low-income communities.