In light of threats against its director and high-ranking officials, ICE is turning to Thomson Reuters, the multinational conglomerate that owns the Reuters news agency, to keep tabs on things.
According to a newly updated federal filing, Reuters sister-company Thomson Reuters Special Services will furnish ICE with “threat mitigation” services, focusing on threats against ICE leadership and their family members. A justification letter attached to the filing says that ICE will pay TRSS for customized dossiers of information and subscriptions to proprietary databases of real-time records of arrests and incarcerations.
ICE initiated the procurement process on Aug. 15, two days after Breitbart News published footage of activists protesting outside an ICE field office and menacing its personnel.
Thomson Reuters Special Services (TRSS) provides “strategic and tactical global risk insights” to its clients. The agreement could be worth as much as $3,399,990 if extended from an initial one- year term to a full three years.
ICE’s single source solicitation, not yet an awarded contract, states that TRSS is the only vendor that can provide ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility with the proprietary data necessary “to make immediate threat level determinations and actions associated with adverse information against ICE personnel.” Within ICE, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is also the division tasked with internal investigations.
“This service will provide diligent and proactive vulnerability assessments, subject matter expertise and continuous monitoring to ascertain possible threats targeted at the ICE Director, ICE Senior Officials and other designated ICE personnel and their respective family members who are the target of threats,” the justification letter reads.
ICE awarded a shorter contract to monitor “newly emergent threats on as many as 100 ICE personnel” to TRSS in 2017, switched to another provider in 2018, and is now pursuing a longer contract with TRSS.
As ICE’s work has become the subject of intense criticism for its practice of separating migrant children from their families, its agents have faced escalating threats. The CEO of TRSS, Stephen Rubley, serves on the board of the ICE Foundation, a nonprofit organization that “supports the men and women of ICE.”
Reuters news agency, also a subsidiary of Thomson Reuters, reports on ICE. Neither TRSS nor Reuters News responded to requests for comment, but a spokesperson told NBC News in June 2018 that the company’s reporting was “completely independent of any [of] our commercial relationships.” ICE and DHS also did not respond to requests for comment.
According to a separate filing, the Department of Homeland Security awarded an almost $2 million contract to TRSS on Oct. 10. That contract will grant Customs and Border Protection access to a selection of Thomson Reuters data including “Reuters News, Social Media, Publications, Global Business Data, Patent Data, Public records and Adverse Filings and World-Check Risk Intelligence.”
Thomson Reuters has come under fire for its work with ICE before. Last year, advocacy and watchdog group Privacy International wrote to Thomson Reuters asking that the company discontinue its work with ICE, which included a $6.7 million contract for real-time jail booking information and a $26 million one for a license plate database. The agency used both services to locate immigrants.
—Taylor Hatmaker contributed reporting