Securus Technologies (Securus), which provides phone services for many of the country’s prisons, experienced a breach of over 70 million phone records from over 37 states. The data leaked includes downloadable recordings of inmate calls from December 2011 to sometime in the Spring of 2014. The data was provided to The Intercept, an online media outlet, in a 37-gigabyte file, which contained the recordings as well as spreadsheets of prisoners’ first and last names; phone numbers they called, the date, time, and duration of the call, and the inmates’’ Securus account numbers. While many argue that much of this information is not private, in the context of incarceration, because the right of privacy is diminished once incarcerated, individuals on the other end of the phone call may be losing some of their civil liberties in this mass recording conducted by Securus. However, the individual receiving the phone call does hear the following: “This call is from a correctional facility and may be monitored and recorded.”
However, the bigger problem with some of the other calls is that they are between inmates and their attorneys, meaning that these calls are confidential and privileged, and probably shouldn’t have been recorded in the first place. This is a potential constitutional violation, including a violation of the right to effective assistance of counsel and access to the courts.
Director of the ACLU, David Fathi, said, “This may be the most massive breach of attorney-client privilege in modern history.” Inmates should be able to speak freely and honestly with their attorneys, and while Securus promised in its contracts with state prisons that each “call will be recorded and monitored, with the exception of privileged calls,” they clearly didn’t keep that promise and didn’t secure the data to keep it out of the wrong hands.
After the announcement of the breach by The Intercept, Securus made a statement to explain that they “have seen no evidence that records were shared as a result of a technology breach or hack into our systems. 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,” and that “it is 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.” We will keep you updated once any further details are released.