Splinter has released a report today after an exhaustive investigation into call logs from VOICE, the Victims of Immigration Criminal Engagement hotline. The hotline, established in April, was created to connect “victims of crimes by removable aliens” to professional services and other victims. In practice, however, it has been a massive security risk and a number that people call when they want to snitch on their neighbors.
reports that while the official purpose of the hotline is not to actually report crimes, the employee training notes that it will likely occur. And it has, as the call logs show that people seem to think VOICE is the place to go to try to get people deported, be they friends, family, strangers or ex-spouses. From the article:
“The logs—hundreds of which were available for download on the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement web site despite containing extremely sensitive personal information—call to mind the efforts of closed societies like East Germany or Cuba to cultivate vast networks of informants and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion.”
The vast majority of the call logs are just prank calls, people cursing out VOICE for encouraging this paranoid atmosphere or making jokes about “green aliens.” But some calls actually do what they’re supposed to do: Of nearly 2,000 calls in the first two weeks, 66 matched a suspect the caller described with a suspect in the Department of Homeland Security’s database. That’s three percent! More than double that resulted in callers describing a suspect not in any database, and thus did nothing.
But many more of the calls came from people looking to settle petty grievances, or make life harder for someone they didn’t like. One man was trying to get his step-son deported without his wife finding out. Others tried to get in-laws or exes deported. Still more were trying to get people who accused them of domestic abuse sent out of the country.
And then on top of all that, the call logs represent a massive security risk. Even after Splinter told VOICE that its (only partially redacted) call logs were available for the public to find on a webpage, they report that said webpage is still active. Many of the logs have private information, such as callers’ addresses and phone numbers, unredacted and readily available. Callers are not made aware of this, and Splinter reports that many of them reacted with dismay when told about it.
See, they thought they were just making illegal immigrants’ lives harder—not their own.