American prisoners are being forced -- on pain of losing access to the prison phone system -- to provide training data for a voice-print recognition algorithm that private contractors are building for biometric surveillance system that listens in on prisoners' calls.
Some prisoners are secretly "enrolled" in the program when their voices are recorded during phone calls; the people they speak to on the outside are also sometimes "enrolled" without their knowledge or consent.
The software is being provided by Securus, a notoriously abusive private security firm with a track record for gross privacy violations, as well as gouging prisoners and their families.
Securus's voice surveillance tool is called Investigator Pro, and it was developed through a $50,000,000 gift from the US Department of Defense, on the promise that it would be used to listen to millions of phone calls and identify the voices of terrorists.
New York’s contract proposal with Securus states that outsiders’ voice samples can be used to “search for all other calls” in their recorded call database to find where those voices occur. In an email, New York prison officials confirmed that this program will give investigators the ability to extract a voice print from an outside caller and use it to “identify that a call recipient has participated in multiple phone calls.” They added that the program will not have names associated with outsiders’ voice prints.
In a statement, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Navideh Forghani also confirmed this outsider voice-tracking capability, noting that while their software does not identify non-incarcerated people by name, it can track “suspicious activities,” such as “multiple inmates speaking to one person on the outside on a reoccurring basis.”
With this technology, a press release for Investigator Pro notes, an investigator can now answer questions like, “What other inmates are talking to this particular called party?” and “Are any of my current inmates talking to this released inmate?”
Prisons Across the U.S. Are Quietly Building Databases of Incarcerated People’s Voice Prints [George Joseph/The Intercept]
(Image: Cryteria, CC-BY)
Your car is basically a smartphone with wheels, and it gathers up to 25gb/hour worth of data on you and your driving habits -- everything from where you're going to how much you weigh. Cars gather your financial data, data on the number of kids in the back seat, and, once they're connected to your […]
Last week, an employee of a Starbucks in Mill Valley, California, just north of San Francisco, found a tiny digital camera hidden in a bathroom air freshener. At the time of the police statement below, they hadn’t determined whether the camera had wireless connectivity. This particular Starbucks is a bustling hangout for kids from the […]
From 6PM-730PM this Thursday, May 23, I'm presenting at the Exposition Park Library (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062) on the problems of Big Tech and how the problems of monopolization (in tech and every other industry) is supercharged by the commercial surveillance industry -- and what […]
Does your gaming setup need an upgrade? No need to wait for Christmas. We’ve rounded up the latest tech accessories for your favorite video game platforms. All of them are already sale priced, but you can knock an additional 15% off the final price for Memorial Day by using the online code WEEKEND15. Audeze Mobius […]
Raspberry Pi is one of the world’s most versatile open-source computers. Alexa is a home automation hub with limitless potential. Together, they’re a dream team for ambitious makers, opening the door to everything from automatic lights to voice-controlled robots. Learning Raspberry Pi is meant to be relatively easy for newbies, but its applications with Alexa […]
Heads up: The clock is winding down on a free-entry contest to win not only one of the best smartphones on the market but a handy pair of earbuds. A simple sign-up is all you need to be eligible to win a 256 GB iPhone XS Max, along with AirPods. And while “free” is tough […]