Last August, Florida's prison system announced that it was switching digital music providers and would be wiping out the $11.2 million worth of music that it had sold inmates — music they'd paid for at $1.70/track, nearly double the going rate for music when not purchased from prison-system profiteers.
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.
If you want to follow someone in realtime, you don't need to shell out to shady data-brokers like Securus (which use a marketing company that exploits a privacy law loophole to obtain phone location data); there are a whole constellation of location data resellers who will do business with anyone, regardless of the notional privacy protections they promise the carriers they'll put in place.
For seven years, Florida state inmates could buy a $100 MP3 player from Access Corrections, the prisons' exclusive provider, and stock it with MP3s that cost $1.70 — nearly double the going rate in the free world.
If you're one of the millions of (disproportionately black and brown) people who have been put behind bars in America, there's a good chance you use Jpay (previously) to communicate with your family.
Spoiler alert: to steal from prisoners and their families.
Every crappy thing in the world is beta-tested on people who have little or no power, perfected, and brought to the rest of us — CCTV starts with prisoners, moves to mental institutions, then to schools, then to blue-collar workplaces, then airports, then white-collar workplaces, then everywhere.
Last week, the New York Times revealed that an obscure company called Securus was providing realtime location tracking to law enforcement, without checking the supposed "warrants" provided by cops, and that their system had been abused by a crooked sheriff to track his targets, including a judge (days later, a hacker showed that Securus's security was terrible, and their service would be trivial to hack and abuse).
Securus is the widely abused location-tracking tool that exploits a loophole in privacy law to allow police to extract realtime and historical cellphone location data without a warrant or any accountability.
Securus Technologies markets a product to law enforcement that taps into realtime cell-tower data from mobile carriers to produce fine-grained location tracking of anyone carrying a phone; it is nominally marketed to find parolees and wandering Alzheimer's patients, but because it has no checks or balances, cops can query it willy-nilly to find anyone's location.
A new documentary, "(In)Securus Technologies: An Assault on Prisoner Rights", tracks the rise of for-profit video "visitation" programs, which are being rolled out across America's unimaginably huge prison system, replacing the in-person visits that have been shown to be vital for prisoners' successful rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Lisa Rein writes, "On November 12th, The Intercept published a story about one of its SecureDrop uploads: 70 million records of prisoner phone data. The hack exposed that at least 14,000 phone calls between prisoners and their attorneys had been improperly recorded, and neither the calls themselves or the millions of metadata records about the calls were being stored securely."
An important story out today confirms that SecureDrop, the open source whistleblower leak system originally programmed by Aaron Swartz and maintained by Freedom of the Press Foundation, works. — Read the rest
The private phone companies that charge prisoners' families up to up to $12.95 for 15 minutes' conversation are not the worst prison profiteers, but they're pretty high up in the rogues' gallery of greedy, immoral predators who view the poorest and most vulnerable Americans as penned-up wallets.
The families of prisoners in the U.S. often have to pay rates as high as $12.95 for 15 minutes of phone time to stay in touch with an incarcerated spouse, child, or parent.
Global Tel-Link Corp. and Securus Technologies are the two main prison phone service providers, and they make a fortune charging poor people over 100 times the typical rate for a phone call. — Read the rest