Paul L. Caron

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Pressure Builds On Law Schools To Cancel Contracts With Lexis-Nexis And Westlaw: #NoTechForICE

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Inside Higher Ed, Law Students Protest LexisNexis and Westlaw Contracts With ICE:

Lexis WestlawStudents at multiple law schools are pressuring administrators to sever ties with LexisNexis and Westlaw, which they claim help the Department of Homeland Security target undocumented immigrants.

Coordinated multicampus protests this fall have left law schools in an unenviable position, stuck between meeting student demands and providing access to the resources at the center of the controversy—LexisNexis and Westlaw—which are under fire for contracts with law enforcement.

The LexisNexis and Westlaw research databases are vital for law schools and the students they serve, who will go on to use these tools throughout their legal careers. But contracts with the Department of Homeland Security have students calling for greater scrutiny of LexisNexis and Westlaw and demanding that law schools wield their political power to renounce these ties. Students have also expressed a desire for law schools to invest in alternative legal research tools.

At the heart of the issue is how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deploys these tools. Critics say that ICE uses them to aggregate data from multiple sources to build dossiers on individuals who may be targeted for deportation, stitching together profiles from criminal records, credit and employment history, utility bills, and license plate numbers, among many other data points. Given that ICE reportedly uses these legal databases in immigration enforcement, some students say their peers are beholden to programs that work against their own community. ...

Thomson Reuters, the parent company of Westlaw, and RELX, which owns LexisNexis, both deny that their products are being used in the way that students and legal researchers claim. RELX has also established a website that aims to explain the services provided to the U.S. government.

We are law professors, librarians, attorneys, and law students who are deeply concerned about the role that Thomson Reuters and RELX play in human rights abuses against immigrants.

Thomson Reuters (parent company to Westlaw) and RELX plc (parent company to LexisNexis) play key roles in fueling the surveillance, imprisonment, and deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants each year. ICE is relying on the data and technology provided by your legal search engines to track and arrest immigrants on a massive scale.

We invite other individuals and organizations to join us in demanding that these companies to end their contracts with ICE.

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