Crack down on US prison surveillance tech, rights groups urge


Barbed wire is seen inside the east block of death row at San Quentin State Prison, in San Quentin, California. A coalition of civil and digital rights groups said the surveillance sometimes overstepped legal limits by targeting conversations unrelated to the safety and security of detention facilities, or possible criminal activity. — AP

LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON: Dozens of rights groups are demanding a crackdown on an artificial intelligence system used to eavesdrop on US prisoners’ phone calls, after a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation highlighted the risk of rights violations.

Documents from eight US states showed prison and jail authorities were using surveillance software called Verus, which scans for key words and leverages Amazon’s voice-to-text transcription service, to monitor prisoners’ phone calls.

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