Washington state sues Motel 6 for sharing guest lists with ICE

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has sued Motel 6, charging the company with sharing its guest lists with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He says the company violated privacy rights and discriminated against thousands of Washingtonians.

>> Read more trending news 

The motel company voluntarily gave the guest lists to ICE on a routine basis for at least two years, according to Ferguson. Each time Motel 6 released a guest list, it included the name and private information of every guest at the hotel, the lawsuit says.

Personal information released included customers’ driver’s license numbers, room numbers, names, guest identification numbers, dates of birth and license plate numbers, according to the lawsuit.

“After news reports in Arizona revealed Motel 6 staff was handing over guests’ private information, Motel 6 implied this was a local problem,” Ferguson said. “We have found that is not true. Washingtonians have a right to privacy, and protection from discrimination. I will hold Motel 6 accountable and uncover the whole story of their disturbing conduct.”

>> Related: Wired scammers money? You could be entitled to part of $586 million

The Attorney General’s Office began investigating the motel chain’s Washington locations in September and alleges that the incidents in Arizona were not isolated.

According to Ferguson, Motel 6 officials admit that at least six of the company's Washington state locations -- in Bellingham, North Everett, South Everett, South Seattle, SeaTac and South Tacoma -- shared personal information of its guests with ICE; this led to the detention of at least six people.

Four of those locations released the personal information of at least 9,151 guests to ICE, even though its privacy policy assured consumers it would protect this information, according to the attorney general.

Ferguson asserts that Motel 6 knew that ICE used the guest lists to target customers based on national origin, including customers with Latino-sounding names. His office says the company trained new employees on the process to give the guest registry and all the names of their guests to ICE.

>> Related: Trump threatens nuclear retaliation in tweet to North Korea’s leader

"At the South Everett location, for example, ICE agents visited the motels early in the morning or late at night, requested the day’s guest list, circled any Latino-sounding names and returned to their vehicles," a news release on Ferguson's investigation said. "On at least one occasion, ICE later returned to the motel and detained at least one individual. The Attorney General’s investigators discovered that from Feb. 1 to Sept. 14, 2017, the South Everett location gave guests’ private, personal information to ICE on approximately 228 occasions in a 225-day period."

The lawsuit filed on Wednesday claims that Motel 6 committed thousands of violations of the Consumer Protection Act and hundreds of violations of the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

A Washington state Supreme Court case established that guest registry information is private and that random searches of this information violate rights to privacy found in the Washington Constitution.

>>Related: Report: Amazon, Microsoft workers caught hiring sex workers using company email

In that case, State v. Jorden, the court said, “Information contained in a motel registry constitutes a private affair under article 1, section 7 of the Washington State Constitution because it reveals sensitive, discrete, and private information about the motel’s guest.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Nation & World

Democrats hope marches can sway Congress on guns
Democrats hope marches can sway Congress on guns

After watching lawmakers agree to two bills this week dealing with guns and school safety in the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Democrats say the gun violence marches around the nation on Saturday have the chance to change the political dynamic on gun control in the Congress. “Their hope gives me...
Justice Dept. announces proposal to ban bump stocks ahead of anti-gun rally in DC
Justice Dept. announces proposal to ban bump stocks ahead of anti-gun rally in DC

The Department of Justice announced a proposal Friday to ban bump stocks, device that essentially convert semiautomatic weapons into machine guns. The announcement came just a day ahead of the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington. >> Read more trending news   Thousands of young people are expected to converge on the...
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs year-round daylight saving time measure
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs year-round daylight saving time measure

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is signing off on a measure that would let Florida stay on daylight saving time all year long. >> Read more trending news  Scott on Friday signed 74 bills into law, including the "Sunshine Protection Act." The measure won't take effect unless Congress also changes federal law. But if Congress were to go...
Mother crashed car into pole to prove to kids God is real, police say
Mother crashed car into pole to prove to kids God is real, police say

Police say a mother intentionally crashed her SUV into a pole to prove to her two small children that God is real. >> Read more trending news  Investigators say Bakari Warren, 25, told officers after the crash that she did it on purpose to show her kids that if they believe, God would protect them. The crash and the 5- and 7-year-old kids&rsquo...
Trump, wife, son arrive for Palm Sunday weekend in Palm Beach
Trump, wife, son arrive for Palm Sunday weekend in Palm Beach

Fresh off some late veto drama before signing a $1.3 trillion spending bill, President Donald Trump arrived around sunset Friday with first lady Melania Trump and son Barron to spend Palm Sunday weekend at Mar-a-Lago. Air Force One landed at Palm Beach International Airport shortly after 7 p.m. for Trump’s 15th visit to his Palm Beach...
More Stories