British Columbia

Hootsuite pulls deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after backlash

Vancouver tech company Hootsuite says it will not proceed with a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after staff raised concerns.

'The decision has created a divided company, and that is not the kind of company I came to lead,' CEO says

Hootsuite's headquarters located in Vancouver, B.C. is seen in this undated handout photo. On Thursday, CEO Tom Keiser said the decision to work with ICE sparked a 'great deal of internal conversation.' (The Canadian Press)

Vancouver tech company Hootsuite says it will not proceed with a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after staff raised concerns with the deal.

Sam Anderson, an employee with Hootsuite, drew attention to it in a series of tweets Wednesday evening.

Anderson said this week, the company signed a three-year deal with ICE despite "extremely vocal" opposition from more than 100 employees. 

She did not elaborate on the deal's details or conditions.

"ICE's repeated human rights violations are, to put it lightly, seriously at odds with our publicly stated values around DE&I, the Movement for Black Lives, and our purpose to champion the power of human connection," Anderson tweeted.

Immigrant advocates and privacy experts have raised alarms about ICE in recent years, including its role in the separation of immigrant children from their families and the deportation of undocumented immigrants

Earlier this year, the U.S. government launched a pilot program to collect DNA from people in immigration custody to submit to the FBI. 

Anderson tweeted that the deal got the green light, even though some members of Hootsuite's support team in Mexico shared their own experiences of being "targeted or harassed" by ICE.

When contacted by CBC News on Thursday morning, the company referred to a statement from CEO Tom Keiser posted on Twitter. 

He said the contract sparked a "great deal of internal conversation" and led to the formation of a committee to discuss "all points of view."

"The decision has created a divided company, and that is not the kind of company I came to lead," Keiser said in the statement.

"I — and the rest of the management team — share the concerns our people have expressed. As a result, we have decided to not proceed with the deal with ICE."

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