Loss of Privileged Information from Surveillance & Hacking

Recent News & Scholarship

Securus Leak

In late 2015, The Intercept reported on a leak involving Securus Technologies, a telecommunications services provider to many US correctional facilities. The leak demonstrated that, despite statements indicating otherwise, at least 57,000 records of attorney calls were insecurely held and inadvertently disclosed.


Attorney Call Records Leaked


Call Records Leaked

How do you plan your strategy? It’s like being at the Superbowl and one team gets to put a microphone in the huddle of another team.

Texas Defense Attorney

I was acting under good faith that they were not recording. And, they were.

Missouri Defense Attorney

Mobile Phone Networks’ SS7 Flaw

In 2016, 60 Minutes reported on a security flaw in SS7, a worldwide network that handles billions of mobile calls and text messages daily. Exploiting this flaw enables eavesdropping.

The ability to intercept cellphone calls through the SS7 network is an open secret among the world’s intelligence agencies — including ours — and they don’t necessarily want that hole plugged.

60 Minutes


In 2013, UK’s The Guardian reported on Tempora, a local agency program, “…aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible.”

For the 2 billion users of the world wide web, Tempora represents a window on to their everyday lives, sucking up every form of communication from the fibre-optic cables that ring the world.

The Guardian

American Bar Association Memo re: Preservation of Attorney-Client Privilege

In 2014, after multiple press reports indicated that privileged attorney-client communications may have been collected and shared, the American Bar Association sought support and clarification from a local agency regarding the handling of such privileged information.

Any government surveillance and interception of confidential communications between law firms and their clients threaten to seriously undermine and weaken the privilege, because as the U.S. Supreme Court noted in Upjohn Co. v. United States, 449 U.S. 383 (1981), “an uncertain privilege…is little better than no privilege at all.”

Former President, American Bar Association

Wiretaps in White Collar Matters

In 2013, a Pace Law Review Article examined the increasing use of wiretaps and highlighted the impact of such monitoring on attorney-client privilege.

…the attorney-client privilege is destroyed where a third party [not the agent of the attorney] is exposed to the contents of an attorney’s legal advice given to his or her client.

Pace Law Review Article

The reported number of authorized wiretap applications has grown by a total of sixty-one percent from 2001 through 2011.

Pace Law Review Article

Parallel Construction

In 2016, The Intercept reported on a 2014 FBI document instructing local police to engage in a practice that ACLU attorney, Nate Wessler, refers to as “evidence laundering.” The aim of this approach is to conceal the use of Stringray cell-phone surveillance devices, while still retaining the benefit of its use. Stingrays harvest information without regard to the privileged nature of a communication.

…this goes the outrageous extra step of ordering police to actually engage in evidence laundering…

Attorney, ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project

…the FBI is mandating manufacture of a whole new chain of evidence to throw defense attorneys and judges off the scent.

Attorney, ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project

Charlie Rose Interviews Glenn Greenwald

In 2014, Rose hosted Greenwald for an interview to discuss his investigative journalism, which led to winning the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.