Media and data firm Thomson Reuters under pressure to drop Ice contracts | Thomson reuters


Data and media firm Thomson Reuters is under increasing pressure to reassess its contracts with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), which critics say facilitate immigrant deportations and commit human rights violations.

The company – which provides data and information to businesses and government clients, and also owns the Reuters news agency – has contracted with Ice since 2015, including providing the immigration agency with software called Clear. , which consolidates public records, including motor vehicle and arrest databases, to track people for their deportation. The company’s contract with Ice for the use of Clear expired in February 2021 and Ice does not have a subscription contract for the database as of April 2021.

But the company’s shareholders will vote at an upcoming meeting on whether to assess the human rights impact of such software contracts, which allow Ice to “track and arrest immigrants on a large scale,” according to the company. Jacinta Gonzalez, a senior campaign organizer for the advocacy group Mijente.

Thomson Reuters has a long history of supporting immigration law enforcement in the United States, including channeling the data of tens of millions of Americans directly to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which used the data to terrorize and deport immigrants all over the country, ”Gonzalez said.

“The company has a responsibility to investigate these practices for human rights violations,” she added.

A new shareholder resolution, which will be voted on June 9, asks Thomson Reuters to produce a report on human rights risks regarding its $ 4.5 million in active contracts with Ice. It was introduced by the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), a Canadian union that owns stakes in Thomson Reuters.

The resolution aims to produce a report on “how Thomson Reuters assesses its role in contributing and directly relates to impacts on the human rights of end users” and on how the company “mitigates its role by contributing to negative impacts on the human rights of end users ”.

He needs a vote of more than 50% to pass. Last year, a similar resolution received nearly 30% of the votes in favor of independent shareholders. In a victory for voting supporters, the resolution won the backing of Glass Lewis, an influential company that advises investors on how to vote on such decisions by analyzing business risks.

However, the resolution still faces hurdles, including opposition from the Thomson Reuters board of directors, which said it was already addressing concerns raised in the shareholder proposal through “various other mechanisms that ‘it set up to reflect its commitment to respect human rights. ”.

Thomson Reuters referred the Guardian to the company’s opinion on the next meeting. “Thomson Reuters takes its role as a good corporate citizen very seriously,” he said in the opinion.

The Thomson Reuters resolution marks the latest example of a large tech company facing backlash for its ties to Ice, and the most recent case of shareholder resolutions being used to resolve human rights issues. In 2019, protesters called on Amazon to sever ties with government agencies involved in immigrant deportations. In 2018, thousands of people called on Microsoft to do the same.

Despite efforts to hold companies accountable for shareholder votes, recent resolutions from companies like Facebook and Amazon have failed. In many of these companies, the leadership has a great influence on the adoption of votes.

But the supporters of the resolution say support is growing and shareholders have the money and the power to get companies to listen.

“One of the most powerful things shareholders can do is speak up when they have ethical concerns about, you know, the company they’re investing in,” said Sarah Lamdan, a law professor specializing in access to government information. “We have to look at these partnerships from all angles. “

This article was modified on June 3, 2021 to clarify that Ice does not have a subscription contract for the database as of April 2021. An incorrect reference in a version prior to Thomson Reuters not responding to a request for additional comment was also deleted.

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