The report tells of one instance in which ICE used backend Facebook data to determine when the account of the person in question was accessed, as well as the IP addresses corresponding to each login. The agents reportedly combined this data with other routinely used records, such as phone records, to pinpoint his location.
Alongside Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Intercept story underscores questions about Facebook’s data privacy, but the use of Facebook data in ICE’s investigations is not illegal. The Intercept reports that the Stored Communications Act lets law enforcement request information from third-party record holders, including Facebook.
Facebook corroborated this point, telling The Intercept that “ICE sent valid legal process to us in an investigation said to involve an active child predator,” explaining that it responded to this request “with data consistent with our publicly available data disclosure standards.” However, Facebook denies that the data was used to identify an immigration law violation, saying it “does not provide ICE or any other law enforcement agency with any special data access to assist with the enforcement of immigration law.”
Beyond the legal issue, the report further demonstrates the increasingly aggressive tools ICE is using in its mission to crackdown on immigration and comply with the Trump administration’s deportation drives. Last September, ICE worked with Motel 6 to obtain guest information and in January immigration agents targeted dozens of 7-Eleven stores, arresting 21 people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.