ICE National LPR solicitation retraction and review (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States of America.
Tracking # 2015-ICFO-71418 ; 2015-ICAP-00337
Est. Completion None
Status
No Responsive Documents

Communications

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

-All orders from Secretary Johnson's office to cancel the contract proposal for the National License Plate Recognition (NLPR) database service (HSCECR-14-Q-00006)
-All orders from Secretary Johnson's office to review the above contract proposal.
-All final reports summarizing the results of the above review.

A copy of this solicitation is available here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1019214/dhs-solicitation-of-bids-for-license-plate.pdf

Per the Associated Press, February 19, 2014: "The Homeland Security Department abruptly reversed course Wednesday and dropped plans to ask a private company to give the government access to a nationwide database of license plate tracking information. Secretary Jeh Johnson directed that a contract proposal issued last week be canceled. [....] The department said Johnson has ordered a review of the proposal."

I furthermore request a fee waiver on the basis of my status as a journalist who has covered law enforcement technology, license plate readers and the Department of Homeland Security extensively. Here is a selection of articles I have published in national media outlets:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/08/big-brother-better-police-work-new-technology-automatically-runs-license-plates-everyone/1qoAoFfgp31UnXZT2CsFSK/story.html

www.betaboston.com/news/2014/03/05/a-vast-hidden-surveillance-network-runs-across-america-powered-by-the-repo-industry/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/05/nypd-social-media-policy-allows-catfishing-with-the-proper-paperwork.html

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/12/03/the-pentagon-finally-details-its-weapons-for-cops-giveaway

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/do-the-fbis-drones-invade-your-privacy-sorry-thats-private

https://news.vice.com/article/fbi-agent-who-killed-boston-bombing-suspects-friend-was-twice-accused-of-police-brutality

The present FOIA request concerns a matter of interest to the public, as demonstrated not only by avid readership of my articles and considerable activism around license plate readers, but also by legislative hearings at the local, state and federal levels on the same.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Shawn Musgrave

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

March 02, 2015 SHAWN MUSGRAVE MUCKROCK NEWS DEPT MR15759 PO BOX 55819 BOSTON, MA 02205-5819 RE:     ICE FOIA Case Number 2015-ICFO-71418 Dear Mr. MUSGRAVE: This acknowledges receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), dated February 09, 2015, and to your request for a waiver of all assessable FOIA fees. Your request was received in this office on February 09, 2015. Specifically, you requested all orders from Secretary Johnson's office to cancel the contract proposal for the National License Plate Recognition (NLPR) database service (HSCECR-14-Q-00006), all orders from Secretary Johnson's office to review the contract proposal, all final reports summarizing the results of the review. Due to the increasing number of FOIA requests received by this office, we may encounter some delay in processing your request. Per Section 5.5(a) of the DHS FOIA regulations, 6 C.F.R. Part 5, ICE processes FOIA requests according to their order of receipt. Although ICE’s goal is to respond within 20 business days of receipt of your request, the FOIA does permit a 10- day extension of this time period. As your request seeks numerous documents that will necessitate a thorough and wide-ranging search, ICE will invoke a 10-day extension for your request, as allowed by Title 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B). If you care to narrow the scope of your request, please contact our office. We will make every effort to comply with your request in a timely manner. After thoroughly reviewing your letter and request for fee waiver, I have determined that you have not presented a convincing argument that MUCKROCK NEWS is entitled to a blanket waiver of applicable fees. The DHS FOIA Regulations at 6 CFR § 5.11(k)(2) set forth six factors to examine in determining whether the applicable legal standard for a fee waiver has been met.  We will consider these factors in our evaluation of your request for a fee waiver: (1) Whether the subject of the requested records concerns “the operations or activities of the government”; (2) Whether the disclosure is “likely to contribute” to an understanding of government operations or activities; (3) Whether disclosure of the requested information will contribute to the understanding of the public at large, as opposed to the individual understanding of the requestor or a narrow segment of interested persons; (4) Whether the contribution to public understanding of government operations or activities will be "significant"; (5) Whether the requester has a commercial interest that would be furthered by the requested disclosure; and (6) Whether the magnitude of any identified commercial interest to the requestor is sufficiently large in comparison with the public interest in disclosure, that disclosure is primarily in the commercial interest of the requestor. As a requester, you bear the burden under FOIA of showing that the fee waiver requirements have been met.  Based on my review of your February 09, 2015 letter and for the reasons stated herein, I have determined that your fee waiver request is deficient because your request did not satisfy factors 4, 5, and 6.  Since your request for a fee waiver has failed to satisfy each of the required factors, I am denying your fee waiver request. Provisions of the FOIA allow us to recover part of the cost of complying with your request.  We shall charge you for records in accordance with the DHS Interim FOIA regulations as they apply to non-commercial requesters.  As a non-commercial requester, you will be charged 10 cents per page for duplication; the first 100 pages are free, as are the first two hours of search time, after which you will pay the per quarter-hour rate ($4.00 for clerical personnel, $7.00 for professional personnel, $10.25 for managerial personnel) of the searcher.  We will construe the submission of your request as an agreement to pay up to $25.00. You will be contacted before any further fees are accrued. You have the right to appeal the determination to deny your fee waiver request. Should you wish to do so, please send your appeal following the procedures outlined in the DHS regulations at 6 Code of Federal Regulations § 5.9 and a copy of this letter to: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Principal Legal Advisor U.S. Department of Homeland Security Freedom of Information Act Office 500 12th Street, S.W., Stop 5009 Washington, D.C. 20536-5009 Your appeal must be received within 60 days of the date of this letter.  Your envelope and letter should be marked “FOIA Appeal.”  Copies of the FOIA and DHS regulations are available at www.dhs.gov/foia . ICE has queried the appropriate program offices within ICE for responsive records. If any responsive records are located, they will be reviewed for determination of releasability. Please be assured that one of the processors in our office will respond to your request as expeditiously as possible. We appreciate your patience as we proceed with your request.
Your request has been assigned reference number 2015-ICFO-71418. Please refer to this identifier in any future correspondence. To check the status of an ICE FOIA/PA request, please visit . Please note that to check the status of a request, you must enter the 2014-ICFO-XXXXX or 2015-ICFO-XXXXX tracking number. You may contact this office at (866) 633-1182. Our mailing address is 500 12th Street, S.W., Stop 5009, Washington, D.C. 20536-5009. (http://www.dhs.gov/foia-status) http://www.dhs.gov/foia-status
Regards,
ICE FOIA Office
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Freedom of Information Act Office
500 12th Street, S.W., Stop 5009
Washington, D.C. 20536-5009
Telephone: 1-866-633-1182
Visit our FOIA website at
www.ice.gov/foia

From: Shawn Musgrave

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Office of Principal Legal Advisor
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Freedom of Information Act Office
500 12th Street, S.W., Stop 5009
Washington, D.C. 20536-5009

To Whom It May Concern:

I hereby appeal my designation as a non-commercial requester for the purpose of fees under FOIA for request 2015-ICFO-71418.

As outlined in my original request of February 9, I have been published extensively regarding license plate readers, and as such qualify for media requester status.

Here is a selection of my articles on license plate readers as published on MuckRock:

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2013/jul/18/police-license-plate-scanners-use-across-country/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2013/jan/28/documents-show-somerville-police-use-license-plate/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2013/dec/15/boston-police-close-alpr-program/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2012/oct/01/under-current-policy-boston-police-can-keep-scanne/

I have also been published in a number of national media outlets on topics including license plate readers and other matters pertaining to national security:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/08/big-brother-better-police-work-new-technology-automatically-runs-license-plates-everyone/1qoAoFfgp31UnXZT2CsFSK/story.html

www.betaboston.com/news/2014/03/05/a-vast-hidden-surveillance-network-runs-across-america-powered-by-the-repo-industry/

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-us-spent-360-million-on-border-drones-thanks-to-this-flimsy-report

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-air-force-says-it-needs-precisely-52-new-reaper-drones-cant-explain-why

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/do-the-fbis-drones-invade-your-privacy-sorry-thats-private

https://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/05/nypd-social-media-policy-allows-catfishing-with-the-proper-paperwork.html

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/12/03/the-pentagon-finally-details-its-weapons-for-cops-giveaway

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/do-the-fbis-drones-invade-your-privacy-sorry-thats-private

https://news.vice.com/article/fbi-agent-who-killed-boston-bombing-suspects-friend-was-twice-accused-of-police-brutality

In recognition of my extensive publication on license plate readers and other matters pertaining to homeland security, I have been classified as a media requester by other Department of Homeland Security components. I have attached two such acknowledgement letters here, and they can also be found online at the following URLs:

https://muckrock.s3.amazonaws.com/foia_files/2015-HQFO-00168_Acknowledgement_Letter.pdf

https://muckrock.s3.amazonaws.com/foia_files/Ack_-_Conditional_Grant_-_Fee_Waiver_Media.pdf

In light of the above, I respectfully request that you revise my status from non-commercial to media requester.

Thank you.

Best,
Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement


From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Downloaded from zip file above.

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A letter stating that the request appeal has been rejected.

From: Shawn Musgrave

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Office of Principal Legal Advisor
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Freedom of Information Act Office
500 12th Street, S.W., Stop 5009
Washington, D.C. 20536-5009

To Whom It May Concern:

This is an appeal of the attached determination on FOIA 2015-ICFO-71418 that no responsive documents could be found regarding the 2014 cancellation order for the license plate reader database solicitation.

Specifically, I appeal the adequacy of the search conducted for this request. As I wrote in an article posted on MuckRock (see https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/apr/13/ice-renews-plans-license-plan-database-it-cant-rem/), a number of media outlets quoted Department of Homeland Security and ICE officials as indicating that the order to cancel the solicitation came from Secretary Johnson's office, as did the order to review the proposal itself.

From The Washington Post, February 19, 2014: “Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license-plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative.”

The same day, from the Associated Press: "The Homeland Security Department abruptly reversed course Wednesday and dropped plans to ask a private company to give the government access to a nationwide database of license plate tracking information. Secretary Jeh Johnson directed that a contract proposal issued last week be canceled. [....] The department said Johnson has ordered a review of the proposal."

Given such widespread reports that the order to cancel and review the RFP came from top DHS officials, it is surprising that ICE FOIA staff could locate none of the paper trail one would think would accompany that order.

I thus request that you remand this request back to ICE for a good faith search and release of responsive documents.

Thank you,

Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.

From: GILD FOIA Appeals

Good morning,

Attached please find ICE's response to your appeal 2015-ICFO-71418, 2015-ICAP-00337.

Sincerely,
-ICE OPLA

Warning: This email and any attachments are UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (U//FOUO). It contains information that may be exempt from public release under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). It is to be controlled, stored, handled, transmitted, distributed, and disposed of in accordance with DHS policy relating to FOUO information and is not to be released to the public or other personnel who do not have a valid "need-to-know" without prior approval of an authorized DHS official. No portion of this email should be furnished to the media, either in written or verbal form. If you are not an intended recipient or believe you have received this communication in error, please do not print, copy, retransmit, disseminate, or otherwise use this information. Please inform the sender that you received this message in error and delete the message from your system.

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