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Communications Crime Privacy The Courts United States Your Rights Online

Prison Hack Shows Attorney-Client Privilege Violation (theintercept.com) 190

Advocatus Diaboli writes with this excerpt from The Intercept: An enormous cache of phone records obtained by The Intercept reveals a major breach of security at Securus Technologies, a leading provider of phone services inside the nation's prisons and jails. 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."

"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. The recording of legally protected attorney-client communications — and the storage of those recordings — potentially offends constitutional protections, including the right to effective assistance of counsel and of access to the courts.

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Prison Hack Shows Attorney-Client Privilege Violation

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  • by fruviad ( 5032 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @10:39AM (#50914765)

    "Constitutional rights? Bah! Who needs 'em!" seems to be the watchword of the new millenium.

    //unless they're gun rights, of course. The gun nuts get everything they want.

    • What the fuck are Constitutional rights? The constitution has never granted you rights.
    • Doublethink (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @11:53AM (#50915235)

      And why is it that you yourself, while acting as if you care about constitutional rights, disparage those who support the right to be armed? I don't want a random person deciding which of my rights I should or shouldn't have based on their individual biases. I want them all.

      Those who support infringing your right to privacy while supporting the 2nd amendment are making a terrible mistake. But by directing your anger towards them and supporting infringing on the right they hold dear, you are not only making the same mistake, but you are also playing into the hands of those who are perfectly happy taking our rights away a little bit at a time.

      Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your ACLU card can't live next to an NRA one, or that the EFF membership depends on you having a specific political allowance as opposed to being committed to preserving as many rights as we can.

      It's good to have different opinions and a debate... But once you say that you're okay sacrificing one right for the false hope of security, just because you don't care to exercise it, you don't get to argue for preservation of others against a similar promise of safety.

      • And why is it that you yourself, while acting as if you care about constitutional rights, disparage those who support the right to be armed?

        Perhaps because GP's characterization is somewhat accurate regarding the current state of political discourse. The choice of the term "gun nuts" may be unfortunate, but the truth is that the 2nd Amendment lobby has had better luck than many other Constitutional rights of late.

        Those who support infringing your right to privacy while supporting the 2nd amendment are making a terrible mistake. But by directing your anger towards them and supporting infringing on the right they hold dear, you are not only making the same mistake, but you are also playing into the hands of those who are perfectly happy taking our rights away a little bit at a time.

        You sound very defensive, reading a lot into a couple words.

        Perhaps I missed something, but I didn't see anything in GP's post suggesting that GP wants to infringe on 2nd Amendment rights. Perhaps GP does. But if anything it is mo

        • ...which is that some people in the U.S. legitimately believe that the 2nd Amendment is archaic and needs to be restricted a bit more... ...and I respect people who think we should make some changes...

          The same polls also show that the majority of the US is willing to be under surveillance for a promise of fighting terrorist, pedophiles, etc...

          What I do NOT respect are people who think we should just "reinterpret" the plain text to mean something new and different from the original

          You mean like the 2nd amendment? You do realize, that the founding fathers would have thought that the "liberal" interpretation of the 2nd amendment to restrict INDIVIDUAL rights, was the definition of the government overstepping its bounds and exactly what they were TRYING to prevent.

          If you're willing to lose one right for the promise of safety, you should be will

    • by kwiecmmm ( 1527631 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @12:00PM (#50915291)

      "Constitutional rights? Bah! Who needs 'em!" seems to be the watchword of the new millenium.

      //unless they're gun rights, of course. The gun nuts get everything they want.

      I thought this was illegal at first. But a little research says that this is perfectly legal. If a prisoner wants to have an unrecorded conversation with his/her lawyer they can do that in person.

      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/can-jail-record-telephone-conversation-lawyer.html [nolo.com]

    • Advocatus Diaboli, indeed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The gun nuts get everything they want.
       
      Utterly false but in any case...
       
      Maybe there's something to be learned from a group of people who have combated an endless assault on their rights for decades and are still fairly free? Naw, forget that. I'll just mock them for actually caring enough to preserve their freedom.
       
      Keep goosestepping there, fruviad. It suits you well.

    • by mi ( 197448 )

      "Constitutional rights? Bah! Who needs 'em!" seems to be the watchword of the new millenium.

      Yep, if events in academia is any guide, the First Amendment [dailycaller.com] rights — including the reporters' right to observe and record [nytimes.com] the newsworthy events — is done for.

      The gun nuts get everything they want.

      False. Although the Bill of Rights clearly calls weapon-possession a right, it is treated as a mere privilege even in the most Liberal locales: you must have a government's permission to keep and bear. And even

    • unless they're gun rights, of course.

      Don't be so quick to drink the partisan Koolaid; rest assured that the 2nd Amendment is on the fascist chopping block as well (but not until T.P.T.B. can get all the mileage they can out of it, using it as a wedge issue...).

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @02:35PM (#50916337)

      I like all of the Constitution as literally written. That means the Bill of Rights as well including the 1st and 4th amendment and even the 2nd which the liberals despise. The liberals fail to realize that when they attack the parts of the Constitution they don't like such as the 2nd amendment they damage the defense of all of it. As one of those gun nuts I think we should all realize that this is what tolerance is all about. So what if I think gay marriage is a joke? I tolerate it because I want the protections of the Constitution as well. We need to stand together on all of our rights.

      • If you spend some time talking to actual liberals instead of believing what you hear on Fox News, you'll find that many of them care very much about the 2nd amendment. They just interpret it "as literally written," including the part about well-regulated militias. They are, in fact, very much in favor of well regulated militias (or as we call them today, "police forces").

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          And that's another thing. This Fox news bullshit. Every single time a libby hears something he disagrees with he trots out that lame ass "quit listening to those lies on Fox News!" I do watch Fox news....and CNN and the BBC and Al Jazeera as well. I'm not debating "well regulated militias" as opposed to "the right of the people" with you because I know it's pointless. The 2nd amendment, according to the liberals the only one of 10 amendments designed to limit the power of government that actually limit

        • by Agripa ( 139780 )

          They are, in fact, very much in favor of well regulated militias (or as we call them today, "police forces").

          Law enforcement at best is a select militia distinct from the people. The 2nd amendment recognizes a right of the people.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      Quick, somebody shoot the messenger! Focus on the leaker and make sure he goes to prison himself! He must have broken some law if the public was apprised of wrongdoing.

  • Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by kqc7011 ( 525426 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @10:45AM (#50914797)
    There is usually a large sign near the phones in prisons and jails that says something like this, "Phone Use Is Recorded". In person conversations between client and lawyer are not supposed to be recored though.
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jaime2 ( 824950 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @11:02AM (#50914895)
      I'm pretty sure posting a large sign doesn't make unconstitutional actions legal. That's kind of the point of the Bill of Rights.
      • Poppycock.

        Posting a large sign indicating that your constitutional rights are no longer valid is a perfectly valid way to violate them.

        Just consider the TSA. They post a large sign indicating that your 4th Amendment rights are no longer valid beyond a certain point before boarding the plane. And apparently; the entire fucking country just accepts that.

    • There is usually a large sign near the phones in prisons and jails that says something like this, "Phone Use Is Recorded".
      In person conversations between client and lawyer are not supposed to be recored though.

      I have to agree with this. Just thinking about it from a technical perspective making a system so that just the attorney client communications aren't recorded is a tough problem.

      Set aside the fact that you need someone with the right authority flicking a switch labelled record/don't record for a specific phone when an attorney call is going through. You also have the task of authenticating that the call is actually to the attorney and not a gang leader's lieutenant who can spoof caller ID.

      To the extent ther

  • by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @10:53AM (#50914843) Homepage Journal

    "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. "

    My family was involved with a fairly complex trial recently (hah -- 'recently' took over 2.5 years from start to finish).

    What I recall was that ALL calls were recorded and then screened (I honestly don't recall how) and the defense was notified of each recording between client and 'accused'. The post-screened calls were then filtered (removing privileged calls) to the police. All recordings (including privileged calls which were separate and sealed) were submitted to the defense as part of discovery.

    • between client and 'accused'.

      A little confusing; the client is usually the accused, unless this were some kind of civil case, the rules for those are different from criminal trials. Anyway, A conversation between a defence lawyer and his client are definitely protected and covered constitutionally under client-attorney privilege, this has been the law in the land since the founding. That jurisdictions break it doesn't make it legal.

      • by Jhon ( 241832 )

        Yeah... I meant "attorney" -- not "client". I originally had "client" and "attorney" but decided to change it to "attorney" and "accused" but didn't change ALL of it.

        And the act of recording it doesn't defacto make it "illegal". Both parties know it's being recorded. They also know it will not and cannot be used. If it is the trial is effectively over and the accused walks. Not to mention police can loose their jobs and prosecutors can be disbarred. Have you SEEN the chain of custody of those recordi

  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @10:54AM (#50914853)

    It isn’t just Securus whose business model has relied on gouging people caught up in the criminal justice system.

    Given how much we pay to incarcerate these people and given that they would be receiving lots of government handouts outside prison, I think the obvious solution is to give them a limited number of free domestic phone minutes per week.

    Handing a phone monopoly to a private company is cronyism and government corruption.

    • government corruption

      The government is corrupt?? Oh, go on...

  • Violates their Constitutional rights? The federal Constitution specifies and limits what the federal government can do. Did the federal government get copies of the conversations, of the recordd from this private company? If not, one can argue a -privacy- issue, but not a -Constitutional- issue.

    • Constitutional rights don't end because the government had a 3rd party do the illegal stuff. In this case the 3rd party company is acting as an agent of the government.

    • Violates their Constitutional rights? The federal Constitution specifies and limits what the federal government can do. Did the federal government get copies of the conversations, of the recordd from this private company? If not, one can argue a -privacy- issue, but not a -Constitutional- issue.

      Incorporation [wikipedia.org] TL;DR: Prior to 1925 the Bill of Rights was held to apply only to the Federal government, but a series of US Supreme Court decisions have held that most amendments do in fact apply to the states as well.

      • Is Securus a state government now?

        Again, if the -government- is listening to attorney-client conversations, there's a Constitutional issue. If some other random person is doing so, it might be illegal, but it's not unconstitutional.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      If you interfere with the right to counsel you are violating constitutional rights. Attorney-client privilege isn't a constitutionally enumerated right, but it is a legally defined privilege.

      The threat to civil rights is that these companies who provide services to the prison system have an inherent bias to the prison system and law enforcement -- that's who their customer base is.

      The idea that these companies can be entrusted to maintain the confidentiality of recorded attorney-client conversations is ext

  • by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @11:01AM (#50914889)

    This is why parallel construction was invented. So you can perform all kinds of illegal NSA-style surveillance to get "evidence", then have someone else construct a case around it while not knowing about the surveillance.

    Convenient.

  • 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

    "Strong indication... likely..."

    So, are they priveleged or not? What if the system actually worked perfectly, and no priveleged conversations were recorded? What is about the number "14,000" that gives rise to the suspicion that some of them were priveleged?

    There are a lot of people in US prisons, you know, and if there is such a thing as an unpriveleged inmate/attorney conversation (I have no idea how it works), then there are probably a lot of those going on. What if they call the attorney's office and th

    • "Strong indication... likely..."

      So, are they priveleged or not?

      They are.

      There are a lot of people in US prisons, you know, and if there is such a thing as an unpriveleged inmate/attorney conversation (I have no idea how it works), then there are probably a lot of those going on.

      There isn't.

      What if they call the attorney's office and they're not there? Is that priveleged?

      Yes.

      All communications between an attorney and client are privileged, with a tiny set of exceptions which are, in general, not applicable here. Calls to an attorney's office are privileged even if the attorney never got on the phone. Communication with the support staff can be just as damaging as communications with the attorney if revealed to the other side. The mere fact of an attorney's consultation or representation is confidential. Much of the time, the fact of representatio

    • What is about the number "14,000" that gives rise to the suspicion that some of them were priveleged?

      The 14,000 were from prisons to lawyers' offices. That's where the suspicion they may have been privileged comes from. And it's only suspected, because it's a lot quicker to check numbers automatically, than to listen to many hours of recordings. That's going to happen later.

  • Nice. It looks like some inmates will get more than 20 bucks when they get out if they sue their asses off those guys.

"I got everybody to pay up front...then I blew up their planet." "Now why didn't I think of that?" -- Post Bros. Comics

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