LexisNexis ‘Virtual Crime Center’ Makes Millions Selling to the Government

The data company LexisNexis makes millions of dollars selling dedicated tools to law enforcement and other U.S. government agencies, according to contracting data and agency documents reviewed by Motherboard.

The contracts highlight LexisNexis’ often overlooked government work, which includes capabilities that stretch beyond its ordinary people-search or article databases available to consumers and businesses. One of those is the Virtual Crime Center, a system for linking public records with agencies’ own internal datasets and those from other agencies. Motherboard obtained documents detailing the Secret Service’s purchase of Virtual Crime Center licenses.

“Today’s law enforcement agencies need a view beyond their own jurisdictions. LexisNexis Accurint Virtual Crime Center brings together disconnected data from over 10,000 different sources, including police agencies nationwide and public records for intelligence-led policing that can then drive decisions and actions,” the website for the Virtual Crime Center reads. LexisNexis sells the product under the brand Accurint, which it uses for its various law enforcement and government products.

Do you know about any other sales of data to government agencies? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email [email protected]

The Secret Service paid around $400,000 each year from 2020 to 2022 for access to the Virtual Crime Center, according to procurement records. The tool is designed to be a one-stop shop for data searches that would ordinarily require multiple disparate systems. 

Motherboard also found Accurint purchases by the State Department, the Food and Drug Administration, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of the Navy, and the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. The Intercept previously covered ICE’s purchase of LexisNexis data. Documents obtained by immigrant advocacy organization Just Futures Law later found ICE searched that data over one million times in seven months.


A section of a document obtained by Motherboard through a FOIA request. Image: Motherboard

Most of the LexisNexis purchases are for “Accurint for Law Enforcement” or “Accurint for Government,” LexisNexis’ dedicated data search tool for public agencies. “With Accurint, you can improve productivity and increase efficiency by processing thousands of records at a time to locate suspects, witnesses and fugitives. Dedicated consultants will work with you to customize a solution that meets your unique agency needs,” the product’s website reads.

Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Motherboard obtained a product description written by LexisNexis of its Accurint data product. Much of that data includes what is also available in consumer versions of LexisNexis, such as business and corporation information. It also includes data types that might be of particular benefit to law enforcement, such as “relatives, neighbors & associates information.”

Zach Edwards, a security researcher who follows the data trading ecosystem, told Motherboard in an online chat that “‘relatives, neighbors & associates information’ is totally alarming. It would appear that LexisNexis has taken the concept of ‘friends and family plans’ to a whole new creepy level, by creating consumer profiles available for purchase to the government, with details about people's close personal contacts.”

He also pointed to Accurint including hunting, fishing, and firearms licenses. “Selling hunting, fishing, and concealed weapons permits is a dangerous line to be playing on due to the fact that about half the U.S. States have laws to prevent sharing that information.” 

Paul Eckloff, senior director, public relations, government at LexisNexis told Motherboard in an email that “LexisNexis Risk Solutions prides itself on the responsible and lawful use of data. Among our broad range of services, LexisNexis Risk Solutions supports U.S. law enforcement agencies in their important public safety work. As a rule, we do not comment on our government contracts or customers.”

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