Privacy SOS

If you can’t afford bail, you may not be able to afford a private conversation with your lawyer, either

Records and recordings of prisoners’ phone calls hacked from a private company’s servers and leaked to the Intercept reveal prisons and jails are recording the content of attorney-client privileged conversations.

The scale of the hack, and of the company’s monitoring of prisoner phone calls, is astonishing.

The materials — leaked via SecureDrop by an anonymous hacker who believes that Securus is violating the constitutional rights of inmates — comprise over 70 million records of phone calls, placed by prisoners to at least 37 states, in addition to links to downloadable recordings of the calls. The calls span a nearly two-and-a-half year period, beginning in December 2011 and ending in the spring of 2014.

According to public relations materials, Securus provides communications platforms used by more than 1.2 million inmates across the country, who are confined in more than 2,200 facilities; by 2012 the company was processing more than 1 million calls each day. In 2014, Securus took in more than $404 million in revenue.

Many of the people whose personal and attorney calls are stored in this massive corporate database are in jails, meaning lots of them have not been convicted of any crime and are awaiting trial. We know that because they often cannot afford bail, poor people are much more likely to await trial in custody instead of at home. Therefore the recording and long-term storage of jail phone calls is just another way poor people suffer enhanced surveillance and scrutiny. When it comes to surveillance, all isn’t equal.

Read the Intercept‘s fantastic, disturbing report.

© 2022 ACLU of Massachusetts.