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

That was the last notice to shareholdersThomson Reuters has announced that it will comply with the United Nations Guidelines for Trade and Human Rights (UNGPs) and will conduct an independent, large-scale evaluation of the human rights impact of its products and services, including contracts with entered the United States Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ).

The announcement comes after years of criticism of data brokerage services provided by Canadian media affiliated with ICE, which uses the Thomson Reuters database service known as White to monitor, shut down and deport Undocumented immigrants to the United States. Currently, Thomson Reuters has more than $ 100 million in contracts with ICE and provides the immigration agency not only with raw data collected from cell phone records, license plates, and other publicly available information but also internal analysts and adapted systems to support the use of data in ICE operations.

The announcement of the impact assessment was welcomed by groups such as Mijente, a leading Latinx charity. #NoTechForICE olole.

“We will be closely monitoring the results of this assessment,” said Jacinta Gonzalez, Mijente’s senior campaign manager. “Our undocumented members of society deserve their right to feel safe and should not be afraid to share their information to be harmed based on their immigration status.”

The recently announced impact rating comes after years of stakeholder activism by the British Columbia General Workers’ Union (BCGEU), a Canadian company with a small stake in Thomson Reuters through its general investment fund. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, BCGEU submitted stakeholder proposals highlighting the confidentiality and human rights violations committed by ICE and suggesting that Thomson Reuters should adopt UNGPs as a guide to mitigating human rights threats.

Attached to the shareholders’ notice, Thompson Reuters added to the text of the latest proposal submitted by BCGEU, noting that the proposal was voluntarily withdrawn from consideration at the annual meeting following promises made to the media company association.

“This is why our organization is taking capital responsibility the way we do it – to force companies to make significant changes in the workplace,” BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said in a statement. “Thomson Reuters would not have taken this step without the constant pressure from BCGEU over the last 3 years, and the ongoing work of Mijente and the NoTechForIce campaign.”

The BCGEU move by Thomson Reuters was sparked by a long-standing concern about transparent data storage, which has the potential to consolidate data extracted from public records in many external databases, such as cars and locker records, health care provider information, telephone records. hand, and more.

In December 2021, White Data came to light again after a letter was sent to the Office of Consumer Financial Protection by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), revealing that many energy companies were sharing the data. ICE agreement. which allowed Equifax’s credit reporting agency to resell information on electricity, water, TV, and other utility bills.

BCGEU Capital Markets Adviser Emma Pullman said Qarka that after first resisting calls for human rights assessment, Thomson Reuters was rejected by the growing awareness of the dangers of sharing data with third parties.

“I think [Thomson Reuters] not that investors are too concerned about this, and that the public is too concerned about data breaches, “Pullman said.” In such a positive storm, the company should have responded. “

While future impact assessments will not include concrete decisions, the commitment to publicly share evaluation results – expected for the next half of 2022 – is seen as a reflection of the media company’s desire to dialogue and change.

“We are very much looking forward to the results of this summer’s impact assessment – and we hope that other data brokers will receive the same pressure as responsible investors in the future,” Smith said. “This is a start.”