Compliance Management, Network Security, Privacy

Motel 6 to revamp privacy, data sharing policies after Phoenix locations send guest info to ICE

Motel 6 employees in the Phoenix area who voluntarily and routinely handed guest registers to ICE officials without the benefit of a warrant may not have run afoul of the company's privacy policy, but the hotel chain said it would take steps to shut down or prevent similar operations at its other properties nationwide.

The Phoenix New Times reported last week quoted an employee at one of two Phoenix-area Motel 6 locations as saying, “every morning at about 5 o'clock we do the audit and push a button and it sends it to ICE,” prompting the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to call out the motel chain on both Twitter and Facebook. “Is this your official company policy?” the ACLU tweeted.

The company's privacy policy not only notes that it collects an abundance of data on its guests but that it “may disclose guest information to law enforcement agencies, or may be required to disclose it during the discovery process in litigation, pursuant to a court order, or in compliance with any applicable law, regulation, rule or ordinance."

However, as experts have pointed out there is no law that compels hotels to voluntarily give up guest information to law enforcement.

The Motel Six had said the Phoenix operation was orchestrated by locals and was shut down when corporate caught wind of it. 

“Moving forward, to help ensure that this does not occur again, we will be issuing a directive to every one of our more than 1,400 locations nationwide, making clear that they are prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guest lists to ICE,” according to a Motel 6 statement. “Additionally, to help ensure that our broader engagement with law enforcement is done in a manner that is respectful of our guests' rights, we will be undertaking a comprehensive review of our current practices and then issue updated, company-wide guidelines.”

While ICE hasn't offered any additional information, it did say, “It's worth noting that hotels and motels, including those in the Phoenix area, have frequently been exploited by criminal organizations engaged in highly dangerous illegal enterprises, including human trafficking and human smuggling.”

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