IT’S BEEN MORE than two years since the debut of SecureDrop, a piece of software designed to help whistleblowers easily and anonymously leak secrets to media outlets over the Tor anonymity network. Now, that system is finally bearing fruit, in the form of a massive dump of files from one of the country’s largest prison phone companies.
On Wednesday, the investigative news site the Intercept published a story based on a collection of 70 million call records taken from a database of Securus, a Dallas, Texas-based company that provides phone service to more than 2,200 prisons around the United States. The database, which the Intercept says was stolen from Securus by a hacker, shows that the company keeps records of every phone call made by the more than 1.2 million inmates who use the service in 37 states, including the time, phone numbers called, inmate names, and even the audio recordings of every call. Those records are routinely sold to law enforcement customers, according to the Intercept’s reporting, and most damningly, include inmate conversations with lawyers that are meant to be protected by the privacy of attorney-client privilege. “This reveals exactly how much surveillance is going on in the criminal justice system,” Jordan Smith, a co-author of the story, tells WIRED. “Many of these calls should never have been recorded in the first place.”