- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2015

A security breach has allowed for more than 70 million phone records concerning the calls made by prisoners to become compromised, and the data suggests that thousands of legally-protected conversations between inmates and attorneys may have been unlawfully recorded.

The Intercept reported Wednesday that they were anonymously sent a trove of phone logs, which also contained links to downloadable audio recordings of the calls.

“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 Intercept reported.

The records were obtained by a breach affecting Securus Technologies, a Texas-based company that provides phone systems to prisons across the country and includes details pertaining to over 70 million phone calls placed by prisoners to at least 37 states over a nearly 2½-year span ending in 2014, The Intercept reported.

On its website, Securus claims that all calls are subject to monitoring and recording, except for specifically those between inmates and their attorneys of record. In a statement this week, the company said it found “absolutely no evidence of attorney-client calls that were recorded without the knowledge and consent of those parties,” contrary to media reports.

But David Fathi, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, told the news site that the hack “may be the most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history.”

“Going forward, prisoners will have very good cause to question whether their phone calls with their attorneys are confidential. And that undermines that very core and fundamental purpose of the attorney-client privilege, which is to allow persons consulting an attorney to give a full and frank account of their legal problem,” he said.

Securus Technologies downplayed the leak in a statement and suggested that the alleged hack was perpetrated by someone who had been authorized to access the data, like a former employee.

“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. 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,” the company said.

“We will fully support law enforcement in prosecution of any individuals found to have illegally shared information in this case. Data security is critically important to the law enforcement and criminal justice organizations that we serve, and we implement extensive measures to help ensure that all data is protected from both digital and physical breaches,” Securus said. 

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