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Data industry could help government track Muslims, report warns

If the Trump administration wanted to compile a list of undocumented immigrants or even Muslims in the United States, it might not have to create any new registry, warns a new report from Amnesty International.

Private data brokers have already compiled lists of millions of names of Muslims, along with lists with names like “Americans with Bosnian Muslim Surnames” and “Unassimilated Hispanic American,” the group found. And one company claimed to be able to offer a reasonably accurate list of undocumented immigrants in California. The brokers with data on religion range from big vendors like Experian to smaller companies with names like E-Tech, and websites like ExactData.com that offer data for download.


Data brokers like ExactData, pictured above, compile and sell specific data on individuals

ExactData offers a list of about 1.8 million purported Muslims, including their names and addresses, for $138,380, according to the report. Another unnamed data analytics company said they had data for 3.7 million individuals of “Muslim ethnicity” in the U.S., slightly above the Pew Research Center´s 2015 estimate of the total number of Muslims in the country, according to Amnesty.

While a number of data companies have explicitly stated they would not help build a “Muslim registry,” data brokers are essentially unregulated, and many believe that government agencies already buy records on Americans from the companies, according to the report.

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