Prison video visitation system exposed calls between inmates and lawyers

Prison video visitation systems are sometimes the only way family and lawyers can talk to inmates, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the security of those systems recently suffered a major lapse. Researcher Bob Diachenko told TechCrunch that video visitation provider HomeWAV left a database dashboard publicly accessible without a password since April, exposing “thousands” of calls between inmates and their attorneys. Anyone could read call logs and transcripts.

HomeWAV shut down the dashboard shortly after TC reported the issue. Company chief John Best confirmed the incident and said that a third-party vendor inadvertently removed the password restriction that kept the server private. He also promised to notify inmates, their families and lawyers.

It’s a particularly serious violation. While many US prisons record calls, they’re not supposed to monitor calls with lawyers due to attorney-client privilege — this suggests the calls were recorded in spite of that rule. And when the pandemic prevents in-person visitations, there’s a good chance that more of these calls were intercepted than usual.

This isn’t the only breach in recent months. Diachenko pointed out a flaw at TelMate that left millions of prisoner messages exposed. However, that just underscores the problem — inmates’ security and privacy issues frequently appear to go unnoticed.

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Lawyers Set For $88 Million Windfall

The lawyers who pursued the Apple Batterygate case are set for a massive $88 million payout.

Owners of various iPhone models had until this week to enter a claim for compensation from Apple for the Batterygate scandal, in which Apple admitted to hampering iPhone performance to improve battery life on its devices. Apple has never admitted any wrongdoing, but has agreed to pay a settlement of up to $500 million.

The Fairness Hearing is set to be heard in the District Court for the Northern District of California on December 4, where it should be decided how much each claimant will receive. Consumers with affected iPhones may be awarded up to $500 per handset, although the payout is likely to be much lower.

The hearing will also hear any objections to the attorney fees in the case, which should also have been filed by this week. If the court hears no objections, the lawyers are most certainly going to be the biggest winners of this case.

“Fair and reasonable” fees

The two firms who pursued the case, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, and Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer, are asking for $87,730,000 in fees, which amounts to 28.3% of the minimum $310 million settlement that Apple must pay. Furthermore, the law firms are asking for unreimbursed expenses totaling $995,245.

In the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Attorney Fees, the lawyers argue that by negotiating a settlement of at least $25 per phone, they have secured more than half the cost of the damage inflicted upon each device, “as calculated by the Plaintiff’s damage consultant”.

They say this represents “one of the largest consumer class action settlements in this Circuit” and that the $88 million fees being