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AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File

A federal appeals court has ruled against the FCC's proposed caps on intrastate rates on inmate phone calls, arguing that the federal agency overstepped its bounds.

This is a market dominated by private equity-backed companies, which have argued that the often-outrageous fees they charge ($8.20 for the first minute, in one case) are caused by the commissions they are required to pay many local and state governments to get the contracts in the first place (even though the companies partnered with those same government entities on their lawsuit).

What to know: In the exceptional cases where local or state governments have either capped intrastate rates or banned contract commissions, private companies have still bid on new prison phone contracts.

Rising values: One of the market's two largest players is Securus Technologies, which current owner ABRY Partners purchased for $640 million four years ago. The company complains about how intrastate caps would damage its bottom line but, while the case remained active, ABRY tentatively agreed to sell Securus for $1.5 billion (including debt) to another private equity firm.

Bottom line: Profits for private equity, price-gouging for the kid who wants 15 minutes on the phone with her incarcerated parent.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
21 mins ago - World

Merkel's departure could bring influx of private investment

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party chairman and candidate for the federal elections, Armin Laschet, in front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Sept. 26. Photo: Clemens Bilan - Pool/Getty Images

Angela Merkel's departure from German government may result in a massive influx of private investment.

Driving the news: The center-left Social Democratic Party, led by chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, clinched a narrow victory in Germany's federal elections. It now will seek to form a coalition government by year-end with the Greens and the Free Democrats.

Instagram pauses development of platform for kids

Photo: Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Instagram announced Monday that it is pausing its plans to develop a version of its platform for children under 13.

Why it matters: Facebook has received backlash since the Wall Street Journal published a report that showed the company knew its Instagram app is harmful for teenagers.

Stock buybacks boom as corporate cash piles grow

The Delta variant is keeping more companies cautious about how to invest the mountains of cash they have at their disposal. That hesitancy has led, in part, to corporate spending on stock buybacks outpacing capital expenditures this year. 

Why it matters: Companies hoarded cash and raised prices over the past year — leaving them with a lot of money and decisions about what to do with it.