Client Communications With Criminal Defense Lawyers – Keeping Your Lawyer and Client Communications Safe From Eavesdroppers and Hackers
This week, the director of the National Security Agency responded to the demand letter sent by the American Bar Association (see details on the ABA letter including its full text here) and what Director General Keith Alexander had in reply shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone: the NSA has told the ABA not to worry, that lawyers in the United States have no need to worry about the NSA or other federal agency listening in to attorney-client communications.
Here’s what NSA’s Gen. Keith Alexander wrote (read the entire text of the NSA response to the ABA here):
NSA is firmly committed to the rule of law and the bedrock legal principle of attorney-client privilege, which as you noted, is one of the oldest recognized privileges for confidential communications. We absolutely agree that the attorney-client privilege deserves the strong protections afforded by our legal system, and that it is vital that proper policies and practices are in place to prevent its erosion. Although it is not possible to address press reports about any specific alleged intelligence activities — and thus to point out the absence of critical factual information in any such reports – we appreciate the opportunity to clarify our current policies and practices and to work with the ABA to ensure that the public has confident that our intelligence institutions respect the role of privileged communications. ….
Of course, this whole exchange resulted from Edward Snowden’s revelation as published in the New York Times that the NSA and an Australian agency had both snooped on confidential client communications between a Chicago law firm and its Indonesian client, which was in fact the government of Indonesia. The NSA reply doesn’t address this eavesdropping event in any specifics, nor does it explain away other past examples of the private and privileged lawyer-client communications by the federal government (see our post last week for some examples and links to others).
Instead, General Alexander writes that the NSA “… has afforded, and will continue to afford, appropriate protection to privileged attorney-client communications acquired during its lawful foreign intelligence mission in accordance with privacy procedures required by Congress, approved by the Attorney General, and, as appropriate, reviewed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”
Does this make any lawyer or law firm out there feel safer and more confident that there’s no one listening into those communications between clients and lawyers in the United States today?
More importantly, are any clients out there feeling more comforted and confident in the safety and protections provided when they communicate by phone or email with their lawyer about confidential topics? Particularly clients of criminal defense lawyers who are facing investigation, indictment, or trial and conviction on serious felony charges?
Facebook Used By NSA to Spy On People, Hacks Into Personal PCs and Much More
Today’s news has another NSA spying revelation: apparently, the National Security Agency has been using Facebook to spy on people. Using the code name “QUANTUMHAND” this operation works by the NSA creating a fake server that someone assumes is Facebook when they log onto Facebook, thinking they are at facebook.com. Once they’ve connected with the fake server, then malware is placed onto their computer via data packets sent from the NSA server onto the computer’s hard drive.
Those data packets with the NSA malware give NSA access to this person’s computer, all the while they think they’ve just been catching up with their Facebook friends.
That’s not all.
Edward Snowden’s also revealed that NSA (for more read this Engadget article for tech details):
- grabs data from flash drives and webcams
- remotely controls PCs
- intercepts the content from both internet calls
- Intercepts virtual private networks
- frequently compromises IT administrators to reach people on the networks they run
- spoofs websites
- alters traffic to trick targets into installing code.
How Can Clients Feel Safe Talking to Their Lawyer – Especially Their Criminal Defense Attorney?
Given the realities that phone calls and e-mails are compromised — or that there is an unknown likelihood that your phone calls or emails are not private and secure — then there exists a real problem for clients and lawyers to make sure that the attorney-client privileged communications are safe from snoopers.
Law firms and lawyers must work to protect these communications and clients, especially criminal defense clients, need to make sure that their lawyers are doing what they can to insure that privileged communications remain confidential.
For the Law Offices of Michael Lowe, this means doing things old school. Going back to things like yellow legal pads and face to face communications in a secure location. People who are under criminal investigation in Dallas and across Texas are often worried about police or law enforcement listening into their calls or spying on their emails. Some may see their concerns as being paranoid, but after this week’s news reports from the Snowden revelations maybe that concern seems much more reasonable.
Law Offices of Michael Lowe: How One Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer is Protecting Communications With Our Dallas Clients
Our offices are visited by potential clients looking for an attorney but who have yet to hire criminal defense counsel. We also have clients who are facing investigation by local, state, or federal authorities on a variety of charges as well as individuals who are fighting charges after arrest, through trial, and on appeal. All these people deserve to feel safe discussing the ramifications of their situation and their factual and legal defenses with their criminal lawyer.
My Offer for Secure Communications to You if You are Looking for a Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer
For potential clients that are worried that their phone is or may be monitored by the government, and want to talk with a criminal defense lawyer totally off the radar, I offer the opportunity for these potential clients to meet with me in our offices as “walk in” clients.
My offer, specifically, is:
- I’ll meet with anyone charged or investigated for any federal or state criminal activity for 30 minutes for $100.
- If I am not in the office, I will make certain that an appointment gets scheduled in person while you wait with my secretary.
- The purpose for the meetings is for the client to decide whether I will be the right lawyer for their case. If the client likes me, he/she can hire me.
- The purpose for the meeting is NOT to formulate a complete and final criminal defensive strategy for their case.
- The purpose is to decide whether the client likes me and wants to hire me.
- These meetings are totally confidential, no phone call to explain your case and no electronic devices will be present at the meeting.
- Just me, the client, a pen with a pad of paper.
- The client will meet personally with me, no other lawyer or assistant will be present at the meeting.
- I cannot offer legal advice concerning any on going criminal activity.
- Office hours are Monday – Friday. 830 am – noon and 1pm to 5pm.
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