back to article Prison telco recorded inmates' lawyer-client calls, hack reveals

Securus Technologies, an American phone services provider, has been recording inmates' phone calls - including those between inmates and their lawyers - much to the chagrin of an activist hacker, who has pilfered the recordings and dumped them into the laps of journalists. Materials leaked to The Intercept "by an anonymous …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge

    Now I know

    why inmates want cell phones dropped by drones!

    1. scrubber

      Re: Now I know

      That's not the only thing drones can drop. c.f. Jihad John.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Now I know

      It's not the recording that irks inmates - it's the 1940s-era pricing for making long distance calls.

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    The prosecution, having the ability to monitor the defense teams preparations, has a decidedly unfair advantage in any criminal case.

    However, I'm neither shocked nor surprised as the US Gov has put itself above the Constitution on many occasions. Until people go to jail for these abuses they will not only continue, but get worse.

  3. James 51

    Do these guys own talk talk?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      It's an offshoot company...

      called Sing Sing.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: It's an offshoot company...

        BA DUMP BA!

  4. James 51

    If it's the only realistic way legal advisors have to talk with their clients that 'active authorisation' isn't as active as it would seem. Or perhaps they assumed knowing that the call was privileged that the telephone company would be in trouble if anything ever came of it.

    I wonder how many appeals are going to be lodged citing this as a factor.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: James 51

      "....I wonder how many appeals are going to be lodged citing this as a factor." The article clearly states that the ambulance-chasers have the right to register their numbers with the authorities and thus block recording of the calls. It is only client-attorney privilege under US law if the authorities are aware it is a covered communication - if the attorney hasn't supplied the number the call is to/from and doesn't start the conversation stating they are the prisoner's attorney then the call is not covered as the authorities have no way of knowing it is a privileged communication. And the privilege only stops the attorney being called to testify against his client in court, it does not stop the conversation being entered as evidence. To try and claim at an appeal that the call was covered the attorney would have to claim it was for legal advice related to the prisoner's case, so when Johnny Scumbag calls his legal vulture and tells them they need to off Bobby The Grass it's a criminal act on their part and can be admitted as evidence.

      1. James 51

        Re: James 51

        All fine in theory perhaps because we know the people hoovered up data like this always obey the rules and it is never abused.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Securus is not part of the government...

    and certainly not part of the prosecution. They are a private phone provider for prisons.

    They definitely broke some rules but are not YET implicated in giving the information to the government prosecution without warrants.

    All phone traffic from prisoners in the US is routinely recorded to keep prisoners from running their "businesses" from inside. USUALLY, this info can only be LISTENED to if there is a warrant for the recording. Face to face meetings with lawyers cannot be recorded.

    However, I'm sure that Securus' lack of security against multiple hackers has broken the law in some way.

    1. pixl97

      Re: Securus is not part of the government...

      >and certainly not part of the prosecution.

      The particular problem here is the people who elicit Securus' services being installed are part of the government. There is competition in the market, so the provider that bends to the will of the agencies that are involved in provider selection are most likely to survive. The inmates are not the customer, they are a captive audience that has to pay whatever rate is dictated to them (the FTC recently decided that rate was far too high, Securus is still fighting that in court).

    2. Robert Helpmann??
      Childcatcher

      Re: Securus is not part of the government...

      They definitely broke some rules but are not YET implicated in giving the information to the government prosecution without warrants.

      I would be fascinated to know what kind of warrant would authorize the government or, anyone else for that matter, to wiretap a conversation between an inmate and his or her attorney.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Securus is not part of the government...

        I would be fascinated to know what kind of warrant would authorize ...

        National Security Letter?

  6. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I did a wee bit of prisoner support in the UK, until the police punished me by raiding my elderly parents house. It was perfectly obvious me and the prisoners were being spied on, although the prisoners themselves doubted that at the time.

    I was hugely surprised to get a phone call from one of the prisoners, from a smuggled mobile phone, and I cautioned against that and asked the reasons why.

    "It's cheaper than the prison phones"

    Prison 'public' telephones have been outsourced to a private company that charges extortionate rates unaffordable to most prisoners earning pennies per hour for prison work, they are prefaced with overly-lengthy messages warning the person receiving the call that the call is from a prison, and of course they are monitored. So instead they smuggle phones.

    Why would you care that prisoners are denied affordable telephone calls? You probably don't but you should. Not all prisoners are criminals, and even criminals should be able to contact their families to help stop those innocents following the same route. If nothing else, over-moderation and unfair punishment of monitored phones simply encourages counter-measures that the state has proven unable to clamp down on - of course some nasty prisoners will make malicious mobile calls.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not all prisoners are criminals,

      Really? Just very naughty boys, I suppose.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Boffin

        @AC

        What about the ones on Remand who haven't been convicted of any crime yet...?

  7. sjsmoto

    They should at least be forced to change their name to Insecurus.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      BA DUMP BA!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ridiculous

    I have spoken before about my time in jail on certain topics. But as is mentioned above, when I was serving my sentence the cost was 20odd pence per minute with a 30 pence connection. Charge.

    I worked in the prison laundry and earnt £10 a week. To make a call home to my elderly mother and other members of my family over the space of a week would cost me £15 mainly due to having 5 minute slots on the phone and then to the back of the que

    At the end of the day as the article says extortionate prices for a captive audience. When speaking with inside times the national newspaper, BT stated that they charged more for the cost of providing a phone as if it was broken it had to be replaced. After 5 years in jail not once did I see a broken phone.

    Now as some maybe aware when you are in jail / prison there are rules and one of the rules you didn't break was messing with other people phone calls so in 5 years I saw exactly 0 broken phones across 4 establishments housing over 5,000 inmates

    It is all excuses to make money from those that can only use that service

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Ridiculous

      Indeed, for prisoners are truly a captive audience. Not just phone calls but anything they buy on the inside (I'm talking about the legal stuff, not the smuggled in stuff).

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: Ridiculous

        California uses prisoners to fight wildfires. They don't actually earn any significant amount of money for it, but they can get their sentence reduced, and if they die then no-one is going to care. They are only prisoners.

  9. g00se
    FAIL

    Desirable info

    That's why i posted THIS ;)

  10. Stevie

    Bah!

    Only a lawyer could think that making calls on a wireless cell phone would be "privileged' - and secret.

    Dumbest collection of human rock I ever met, lawyers. I used to think they had to be very smart but the ones I've met in person have been walking adverts for culling the herd. I guess they only have to shine twice: for their law school final and when they sit the bar.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Bah!

      Not dumb, arrogant. As in: arrogant enough to think that just because their calls are privileged, they are protected.

  11. phuzz Silver badge

    "the fact that a hacker was able to obtain access to over 70 million prisoner phone call records shows that Securus' data storage system is far more vulnerable than it purports to be."

    Or it was an inside job. It's rare that there's an effective defence against a disgruntled BOFH.

  12. Graham Marsden

    "much to the chagrin of an activist hacker"

    I do not think that word means what you think it means...

    Chagrin: "Annoyance or distress at having failed or been humiliated." Why would the activist hacker feel this way?

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