Securus Technologies, a company literally closed to the market, has closed a class action lawsuit relating to illegally recorded prison phone calls, promising to improve its systems while avoiding tens of millions of dollars in damages.
Two former inmates and a defense attorney sued a law firm in Texas after learning that a prison communications service provider had recorded over 14,000 legally protected conversations between inmates and their lawyers in California.
The recordings of the calls were released after someone hacked into the company’s system, found about 70 million saved calls and gave them to journalists.
Securus argued that the recordings were the result of a software error and not a deliberate act, and maintained this explanation because the case broke the U.S. legal system in the last four years.
The lawsuit claimed $5,000 for each person whose conversation was falsely recorded, resulting in $70 million in compensation, although the class action lawyers eventually dropped the lawsuit after the courts repeatedly ruled against them that they had to prove they had to win the case.
A U.S. federal judge in San Diego ruled that lawyers had to prove that Securus intended to record privileged conversations. They appealed against the decision and the Ninth Circuit refused to hear the case.
The lawyers are fine, as usual. Securus has agreed [PDF] to pay the attorney’s fee in the amount of $840,000. It will also provide up to $20,000 to each of the three class representatives. This denies any wrongdoing.
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As to the solution of the problem, the service provider stated that it would create a new private call option for secure calls to lawyers and doctors.
In the past, the system registered their phone numbers and did not register them automatically, at least not in theory. The system will also include additional warnings if a call is recorded and the company promises to issue a statement of compliance every six months for the next five years.
FCC sucks teeth, beats his tongue, says: Yes, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, Verizon encourages you to locate them. I think we should fine them?
Securus has been repeatedly criticised for the way in which it exercises its monopoly on telephone systems in more than 3,000 different prisons and related facilities. In 2018, he was charged with collecting location data from the people who used his services and then selling this data to unattended police officers, resulting in a violent letter from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
This lawsuit revealed that the four major U.S. telecommunications companies sold their customers’ location data to uncontrolled third parties, sometimes via simple web portals: a problem that has been repeatedly denounced by the federal regulator FCC.
Sekurus was also repeatedly accused and persecuted because he was literally a prisoner public and charged more than a hundred times the usual market rates for calls to prisoners.
He usually asks people who want to make or receive calls in prison to download his application and have a prepaid account that allows him to charge astronomical connection costs for people who have no means of communication other than a personal visit.
The company is privately owned, so it does not disclose its finances, but a leak in 2014 showed that it made a profit of $115 million in that year alone, compared to sales of $405 million. Nevertheless, Sekurus only has a market share of 20% of the prison phone system, which is transferred to private companies.
Efforts to reform the system, some of which were undertaken by the supervisory directors of the FCC, have repeatedly failed. ®
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