Prisons Across the US are Building Massive Databases of People’s Voices

Hundreds of thousands of people locked in the prison industrial complex have had their voices put into biometric databases.

Prisons across the United States are cooperating in building biometric databases of incarcerated people’s voices, according to The Intercept. The report cites documents from New York’s prison system, and prison officials in Arizona, Texas, Arkansas and Florida that confirmed they are using voice recognition technology that extracts and digitizes people’s voices to create individualized biometric signatures.

The technology has been used by the intelligence community for more than a decade, now it is being used to build databases of incarcerated people’s voices, prisons claim the systems are to improve security. The biometric data can be used to track phone calls, flag calls, and find past conversations that match the voice of a particular person.

The report reveals some recordings are made without the consent of the people involved. The Intercept recounted the experience of a man in prison who was forced to read a set of phrases to create an accurate voice print. If he refused, he was told he would lose his phone access and not be allowed to speak with his family.

According to the report, New York and Texas prisons hold on to voice prints after people get out of prison. Some counties also confirmed they could identify the voices of people on the outside who have not been accused of or committed any crime, but still had voice prints recorded into the systems.



Image: “Prison” by meesh is licensed under CC BY 2.0