NOAA Fisheries law enforcement plans on subscribing to commercial database
NOAA Fisheries plans on subscribing to an existing commercial database to support its law enforcement division, giving the agency access to more public and propriety information as it conducts its investigations.
In July, SeafoodSource reported that NOAA Fisheries was considering creating or purchasing a new national database that would enable law enforcement officers to search vehicle registrations, phone records, social media accounts, and more. According to a June 2023 notice, NOAA wanted the centralized repository to be capable of creating custom reports showing “connections between people, businesses, assets, and locations.” The agency also wants access to license plate recognition technology and automatic alerts when data on subjects of interest is updated.
“Analytics should be built in to assess potential associates, relatives, and affiliations of the subject,” NOAA said. “Built-in analytics that dig deeper and link subjects, businesses, and assets is necessary to uncover connections that will assist special agents and enforcement officers in their investigations.”
The agency issued the source sought notice in June to gauge what solutions industry could provide that fit the government’s needs. After receiving that feedback and conducting market research, the agency issued a solicitation on 16 August with the intent of subscribing to Thomson Reuters' CLEAR service or a brand-name equivalent. The contract will be for one year, with government options to extend the deal another four years.
Though primarily known as a news and media company, Thomson Reuters also operates CLEAR – a web-based records resource that allows users to search everything from social media to proprietary records to create custom reports on individuals. CLEAR can provide data on a subject’s phone numbers, credit information, vehicle registrations, utilities, properties, court records, and healthcare, according to a company brochure.
NOAA Fisheries is already familiar with CLEAR. The agency awarded Thomson Reuters a USD 60,000 (EUR 56,000) contract in August 2022 for a one-year subscription to CLEAR. That contract is set to end 30 September.
Police departments, multiple government agencies, and the U.S. military rely on CLEAR directly or indirectly to support their activities, although the company does not provide a full list of its government customers.
Thomson Reuters faced criticism in 2020 for providing CLEAR to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as the government carried out the family separation policy under the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump. That pushback led the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange to end the practice of selling customer utility data to CLEAR in 2021. The B.C. [Canada] Government and Service Employees’ Union claimed in 2020 ICE had paid USD 60 million (EUR 56 million) in contracts with Thomson Reuters.
Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries