Massive hack of 70 million prisoner phone calls reveals what may be biggest attorney-client privilege breach in U.S. history

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WHY were the records stored? I could understand a few weeks of metadata for billing reasons, but 2.5 years with voice recordings?


WTF? Is the US Constitution even in place any longer? This kind of shit that chaps my hide, and BTW thanks Big TeleCom for nothing.


You should correct the headline, @xeni. The hack isn’t the breach of attorney-client privilege, recording and storing the calls is. The way it’s written makes the hacker sound like the bad guy.


Prisoners lose lots of rights, right to privacy is one of them. There are no stalls surrounding most prison toilets. For matters OTHER THAN calls to attorneys it’s certainly reasonable to keep records of what is being talked about by convicted criminals for a variety of reasons. They all know their calls are recorded and their mail is monitored. It’s one of the few checks on organized crime.

The Constitution only seems to exist as a smokescreen and nothing else.


So. Let me see if I can understand the crux of your argument.

  1. Part of going to prison is the loss of rights, enjoyed by persons who have not been convicted of a crime.
  2. In ages past, if was not technologically feasible to violate certain rights on a wholesale basis.
  3. Any loss of privacy was either through accident or by limited design, focused upon a limited minority of incarcerated persons, and therefore did not enter into the motivational calculus of homo economicus.
  4. It is now technically possible to violate these rights wholesale, pushing the loss of these rights into the motivational calculus.
  5. Although the usefulness of such recordings is nil, the low cost of archiving them is outweighed by the symbolic value associated with the subordination of individual personhood to the whims of the state.

If that were true, then you’d have a system in place to identify when a call happens between a client and his attorney. Does that system exist?

Because if it doesn’t, then you’re just guessing.


This may be the most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history…

Maybe. Maybe it’s just the biggest one we’ve heard about.


They lose a lot of rights, including a lot of privacy rights, but they still keep the right to attorney-client privilege.

Which is why Securus promised that each “call will be recorded and monitored, with the exception of privileged calls.” And why Securus contracts explicitly stated that phone calls “to telephone numbers known to belong [to] attorneys are NOT recorded,” and that “if any call to an attorney is inadvertently recorded, the recording is destroyed as soon as it is discovered.”

There’s already a federal civil rights suit against Securus by the Austin Lawyers Guild and a prisoners’ advocacy group for violating this promise, even before this hack went public.

Remember, prisoner does not always mean convict. Many of them have not yet had their day in court. (And we’re talking about a country which routinely keeps people incarcerated for over a decade without charges, let alone trial, before letting them go with an “er, never mind.”)


The crux of an argument is the core, not where you name what I said as point #1 and then fabricate points 2-5. However, I do not believe the usefulness of prisoner communications is “nil” since we have plenty of documented evidence of organized crime being run through the prison system to justify such monitoring in cases where it does not infringe attorney-client privilege.

This is an excellent point that I didn’t see addressed elsewhere. Definitely it’s wrong to be recording the phone calls of someone freshly imprisoned before trial while they’re trying to arrange for a lawyer and plead their case, or arrange for release.

Right, which is why I wrote in all caps that I specifically don’t agree with that (recording calls to attorneys). Don’t let that stop you from selectively quoting what I wrote and taking it out of context though.

I didn’t guess or speculate about anything. I stated that prisoners don’t generally have a right to privacy and know that, but that I believe they should still be afforded attorney-client privilege. Maybe you are speculating a bit too much about what I meant by what I wrote.

That’s not what we’re talking about here.

Hmm, I may have misread you since you don’t actually address the topic. I interpreted the first part of your comment as a blanket endorsement for stripping prisioners of all rights and therefore your second one as a half hearted acknowledgement that they do have rights, but then your third one:

as the tacit acknowledgement by the prisoners that they don’t have any rights at all.

So that’s how I understood things. I apologize for misrepresenting you.


As long as the horrific violation is perpetrated by a corporation, there’s no actual consequence?

Maybe they’ll pay a fine, but no human decision-maker in the corporation will face any penalty…

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