Does ICE Data Surveillance Violate Human Rights Law? The Answer is Yes, and It’s Not Even Close

Hinako Sugiyama is an international human rights lawyer and a faculty member at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, where she supervises the work of the International Justice Clinic. Emily Tucker is the Executive Director at the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, where she is also an adjunct professor of law. The border wall dividing the US and Mexico, San Diego, California, 2019. Shutterstock On November 3, the United Nations Human Rights Committee released its Concluding Observations on the fifth periodic report of the United States of America, explicitly calling out Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for surveillance practices that conflict with human rights law. The Human Rights Committee is the independent body that monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR is the one of only four human rights treaties that the US has ratified, and this is the first time that the Committee has reviewed the US’s compliance with its treaty obligations since 2014.  In its report, the Committee expressed concern that “government agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), resorted to databases of personal information systematically collected by private entities without individuals’ consent, particularly for surveillance purposes and without proper mechanisms for protecting the right to privacy (art 2, 17 and 26).” ICE’s surveillance practices came up during the October 18 meeting in Geneva as well when a Committee member, Professor Chanrok Soh, expressed concern about the lack of data privacy regulations in the United…Does ICE Data Surveillance Violate Human Rights Law? The Answer is Yes, and It’s Not Even Close