Hackers Allege Prisoners’ Privileged Phone Calls Are Being Recorded, Publish 14,000 Calls
The latest failure in cyber-awareness just left millions of people exposed and a company that provides prison telecommunications services company on the defensive.
Concerns about civil liberty violations are spreading after an unidentified hacker recently breached Securus Technologies and released the audio of an estimated 70 million phone conversations of U.S. prisoners —including communications between attorneys and their clients.
The unidentified hacker who leaked the materials believes Securus is violating the constitutional rights of inmates by recording phone calls protected by attorney-client privilege. Securus denies both the hack itself and the allegation it’s illegally recording phone calls, saying it appears to have been a leak by someone with access to the information.
“Particularly notable within the vast trove of phone records are what appear to be at least 14,000 recorded conversations between inmates and attorneys, a strong indication that at least some of the recordings are likely confidential and privileged legal communications — calls that never should have been recorded in the first place,” reported The Intercept.
Attorney-client privilege legally protects conversations or letters between a lawyer and client that the lawyer may not reveal in order to guarantee defendants their constitutional right to receive “effective assistance of counsel.”
In addition to the audio files, the records received included the first and last names of prisoners; the phone numbers they dialed; and the date, time, and length of the calls.
David Fathi, a director at the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Intercept the recording of some of the phone calls “may be the most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history, and that’s certainly something to be concerned about.”
“Going forward, prisoners will have very good cause to question whether their phone calls with their attorneys are confidential,” he added. “And that undermines that very core and fundamental purpose of the attorney-client privilege.”
Securus is denying a breach of their networks took place and says it was likely leaked by someone with access to the records. “Although this investigation is ongoing, we have seen no evidence that records were shared as a result of a technology breach or hack into our systems,” Securus said in a statement. “Instead, at this preliminary stage, evidence suggests that an individual or individuals with authorized access to a limited set of records may have used that access to inappropriately share those records.”
Securus provides prisons with a call management system called the Secure Call Platform, which apparently gives prisons the ability to control “any inmate phone from anywhere in the country” and allows for “remote monitoring.”
The company also boasts about having a centralized program that “minimizes the loss of data” due to natural disasters and “from localized system failures such as hard drive malfunctions and software corruptions.”
Securus also says privileged conversations were not violated. “It is very important to note that we have found absolutely no evidence of attorney-client calls that were recorded without the knowledge and consent of those parties,” Securus added. “Our calling systems include multiple safeguards to prevent this from occurring.”
Listed tenth on their Customer Integrity Pledge is the Securus promise that they “understand that confidentiality of calls is critical, and we will follow all Federal, State, and Local laws in the conduct of our business.”
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