The ‘Apple of prisons’ is claiming it owns everything inmates send through its servers

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The ‘Apple of prisons’ is claiming it owns everything inmates send through its servers

by Kevin Roose

Prison technology is a mess. Between predatory phone companies charging usurious rates for long-distance calls, outdated laws that punish contraband Facebook updates with years in solitary confinement, and video-visitation providers who force prisons to ban in-person visits with their loved ones, it’s as if the entire purpose of putting technology in prisons is to make money for a handful of third-party providers, rather than extending basic digital rights and providing rehabilitation and communication options to the millions of people behind bars.

JPay, a company that Bloomberg Businessweek called “the Apple of the U.S. prison system,” allows inmates in more than 30 states to send (monitored) email, receive money transfers (for a steep fee), and conduct (low-fi, glitchy) video chats with their loved ones on the outside. And now, the company is claiming that it owns everything sent and received through its systems. As spotted by the EFF’s Dave Maass, buried in JPay’s Terms of Service agreement is this line:

You … acknowledge that JPay owns all of the content, including any text, data, information, images, or other material, that you transmit through the Service.

Imagine if Google claimed that the contents of everything you sent through its servers belonged to them. (Not just if they reserved a license to use the content, as happens with Facebook photos and other uploaded data, but if the content actually became theirs.) If you e-mailed a recipe to your friend using Gmail, that recipe would become the intellectual property of Google. If you sent a love note or a racy photo to your partner, that, too, would become Google’s property. Upload a video you shot to your Google Drive, and that video would belong to Google.

That would be a crazy set-up, obviously. But it’s what exists in prisons that use JPay technology. And, since there’s very little competition in the prison tech market, which is dominated by a few large corporations that use their muscle to create long-term exclusive contracts with prisons, it’s not as if prisoners can switch to a rival system with saner terms. As Maass says, “JPay is leveraging its exclusive access to prisoner communications to claim rights over anything they or their friends and family transmit.” A JPay spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This isn’t just a hypothetical IP issue; it’s also playing out in real, harmful ways for inmates. As Maass points out, one Indiana inmate, Leon Benson, was sent to solitary confinement and stripped of good-time days after a short video he’d sent to his supporters using JPay was posted on Facebook by his sister. Sending videos through JPay isn’t a crime, of course — that’s the whole point of having an approved technology provider — but prison officials argued that since JPay owned the video, Benson was violating its copyright by copying it to Facebook without permission.

The obvious solution to the many problems of the existing prison technology providers would be to allow new start-ups to come up with better ways to serve inmates and their families. But that isn’t likely to happen. In fact, instead of being disrupted by newcomers, the market is consolidating. Earlier this year, JPay was purchased by Securus Technologies — another huge prison tech provider — giving it even more leverage with the prisons who use its systems.

Kevin Roose | May 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm | URL:

President Obama’s touching note about Dave Goldberg might make you cry

Originally posted on Fortune:

The business world was shocked and saddened to learn over the weekend that Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey and the husband of Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg, had died suddenly while on vacation. On Monday, President Barack Obama joined the chorus of people sharing his condolences.

Obama took to the White House official Facebook page to offer his thoughts:

David Goldberg embodied the definition of a real leader – someone who was always looking for ways to empower others. He was generous and kind with everybody, and cared less about the limelight than making sure that the people he worked with and loved succeeded in whatever they did. His skills as an entrepreneur created opportunity for many; his love for his family was a joy to behold, and his example as a husband and father was something we could all learn from. We’re heartbroken by him leaving us far too…

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Stand By Me – Open Discussion

Originally posted on Blackbutterfly7:

Caterpillars, moths, butterflies and all creatures great and small,

Thanks to those who participate here, and all new visitors and subscribed followers. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, I’ve found myself in a place of having little time to write, but I would like to share the following with you.

Ben_E_KingOne of my favorite singers, Ben E. King, has crossed over.

The song that he is famous for is “Stand By Me.”

I love the rendition that Playing for Changedid with the song. They incorporated people around the world singing and playing it.

It gives me goose bumps.

Trust me, this song is a good way to begin your week.

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Baltimore Police Union has the gall to start a ‘My Life Matters’ campaign after 6 officers arrested

Originally posted on The Fifth Column:


What in the world?

After six Baltimore police officers were arrested on felony charges in the death of Freddie Gray, the tone-deaf Baltimore Police Union decided to start a new online campaign called #MyLifeMatters.

Mind you, not one of the officers who played a role in killing Freddie Gray was harmed in any way whatsoever by Gray or anyone else. Why even start such a campaign?

Of the 10 most dangerous jobs in America, being a police officer is not even on the list. Yet they’d have us believe that their job is as dangerous as it gets.

Yeah, your life matters, but we’d like for you to start acting like black lives matter, too.

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Comrad on Being a Black Man in Baltimore


Rapper and Baltimore Algebra Project Activist Talks Being a Black Man in… via @YouTube

Originally posted on Aware & Fair:

Comrade, Baltimore rapper and activist, exclusively talks to The Real Music host Angel Elliott about police brutality and activism.

— The Real News

Comrad, hip hop artist and activist, talks about being a young Black man in Baltimore. Watch the light exude from him as he describes how he ‘grew up’ in the Algebra Project. First, he received tutoring. Eventually, he became a leader and community activist for the program.

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Man reportedly shot during interaction with Baltimore police


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The first time I go down Pennsylvania and North Avenue since all this stuff happened and somebody gets shot. Everybody’s running. Police helicopters yelling. Police cars swerving around

Originally posted on Global News:

A man was shot during an interaction with police in Baltimore Monday, according to media reports.

Initial reports suggest the man, who is black, is injured but alive.

The incident comes after more than a week or protests and riots sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died after being illegally arrested. Six police officers face charges as a result of Gray’s death, including one officer charged with second degree…

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