The father of singer Britney Spears allegedly hired an Israeli security firm to monitor and record her phone calls, text messages, and communications during her court-mandated conservatorship, a former employee of the firm said in a New York Times documentary released on Friday.
According to the documentary, titled “Controlling Britney Spears,” Britney’s father James (Jamie) Spears used the agency, Black Box Security to capture audio recordings from her bedroom, including communications with her boyfriend and children, the former employee Alex Vlasov said.
Vlasov supported his claims with emails, texts, and audio recordings that he received during his nine years at the company, in roles such as executive assistant and operations and cybersecurity manager.
He said that the firm would monitor digital communications by mirroring Britney Spears’ iCloud account to a separate iPod (and later an iPad), where Yemeni would tell Vlasov to encrypt private information such as texts, FaceTime calls, browser history, and photographs and forward it to Jamie Spears.
The New York Times reported that the conversations were likely recorded without the consent of both parties — a violation of the law — and that it was “unclear if the court overseeing Ms. Spears’s conservatorship was aware of or had approved the surveillance.”
Edan Yemini, chief executive and founder of Black Box Security, said in a statement, through his lawyer “Mr. Yemini and Black Box have always conducted themselves within professional, ethical, and legal bounds, and they are particularly proud of their work in keeping Ms. Spears safe for many years.”
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Jamie Spears said, “All of his actions were well within the parameters of the authority conferred upon him by the court. His actions were done with the knowledge and consent of Britney, her court-appointed attorney, and/or the court. Jamie’s record as conservator — and the court’s approval of his actions — speak for themselves.”
“Any unauthorized intercepting or monitoring of Britney’s communications — especially attorney-client communications, which are a sacrosanct part of the legal system — would represent a shameful violation of her privacy rights and a striking example of the deprivation of her civil liberties,” Britney Spears’ lawyer Mathew S. Rosengart, said in a statement.
“Placing a listening device in Britney’s bedroom would be particularly inexcusable and disgraceful, and corroborates so much of her compelling, poignant testimony,” Rosengart said. “These actions must be fully and aggressively investigated,” he added.
The conservatorship began in 2008 after Britney Spears had a series of public mental breakdowns with paparazzi continuing to follow her and take photographs.
In June, Spears addressed a court in Los Angeles where called the conservatorship “stupid” and “abusive,” telling the court she felt traumatized and wanted her life back. In August, Jamie Spears filed a petition to end the conservatorship. The next hearing in the case was scheduled for Wednesday, September 29.