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Thomson Reuters commits to human rights evaluation of ICE contracts after union investor push

Thomson Reuters commits to human rights evaluation of ICE contracts after union investor push

In its latest notice to shareholders, Thomson Reuters announced that it will align with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Trade and Human Rights (UNGP) and conduct an independent, company-wide human rights impact assessment of its products and services, including contracts is included. We. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The announcement comes after years of criticism over data brokerage services provided to ICE by a Canadian media group known to track, arrest and deport undocumented migrants in the US, using the Thomson Reuters database service. does. Currently, Thomson Reuters has more than $100 million in contracts with ICE and requires the immigration agency to not only collect raw data collected from cellphone records, license plate recognition, and other publicly available information , but also from in-house analysts. And provide you with customized systems to support. The use of data in ICE operations.

The announcement of the impact assessment has been greeted with cautious optimism by groups such as Migente, a grassroots Latinx nonprofit that has spearheaded the #NoTechForICE campaign.

"We are closely watching the outcome of this assessment," said Jacinta Gonzalez, Mizante's senior campaign director. "Members of our undocumented community deserve the right to feel safe and should not fear that their data will be shared to harm them based on their immigration status."

The newly announced impact assessment comes after years of shareholder activism from the British Columbia General Employees Union (BCGEU), a Canadian consortium, which is a minor shareholder in Thomson Reuters through its General Investment Fund. In 2020, 2021 and 2022, the BCGEU submitted shareholder resolutions highlighting privacy and human rights violations committed by ICE and suggesting that Thomson Reuters adopt the UNGP as a guiding framework for reducing human rights risks.

In the addendum to the shareholder notice, Thompson Reuters included the text of the most recently submitted proposal from BCGEU, noting that the proposal was voluntarily withdrawn from consideration at the annual meeting following commitments made by the media company to the union. Was. Was.

BCGEU President Stephanie Smith said in a statement, “This is why our union manages capital the way we do – to force corporations to make progressive changes on issues that matter to working people. are. Huh." "Thomson Reuters would not have taken this action without the continued pressure of BCGEU over the past 3 years and the ongoing work by Migente and the NoTechForIce campaign."

The BCGEU's activism towards Thomson Reuters was motivated by a long-standing concern over explicit databases, which are data extracted from public records in many external databases, such as motor vehicle and arrest records, health care provider information, cellphone records, etc. able to integrate. ,

In December 2021, Clear Database came into the limelight again after the publication of a letter sent by Senator Ron Weyden (D-OR) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which revealed that several utility companies had struck a deal with ICE for data. did. was sharing. Which allowed credit reporting agency Equifax to resell information about payments for electricity, water, TV and other utilities.

BCGEU capital markets advisor Emma Pullman told The Verge that Thomson Reuters was impressed by the growing awareness of the dangers of third-party data sharing, after previously resisting calls for a human rights assessment.

“I think [Thomson Reuters] has realized that investors are very concerned about this, and the public is very concerned about data brokers,” Pullman said. "In that perfect storm, the company had to respond."

Although the upcoming impact assessment will not include binding resolutions, a commitment to publicly share the results of the assessment - expected sometime in the second half of 2022 - is intended as an indication of the media company's willingness to communicate and change . is seen.

“We eagerly await the results of the impact assessment this summer – and expect other data brokers to receive similar pressure from responsible investors in the future,” Smith said. "this is just the begining."

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