Sun | Aug 9, 2020

High-ranking JCF and JDF officers given authorisation to access real-time interception communications

Published:Wednesday | July 15, 2020 | 12:00 AM
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang - File photo

Parliament last night approved an order tabled by National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang to amend The Interception of Communications Act, giving authorisation to a cadre of designated high-ranking officers of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to access real-time information in critical situations.

The legislation authorises the interception of communications of a specific person named in a warrant and enables the authorising officers to request technical information from telecommunications service providers.

“Access to real-time information becomes essential in the work of these agencies where preserving the lives of Jamaicans and protecting lives in extreme situations, in particular like kidnapping, are encountered,” Chang said.

“In the current situation, only the minister is entitled to seek immediate real-time information. The normal course of acquisition indicates that you seek a warrant then proceed to get the information,” he added.

Under the order, those now authorised to access real-time information are the chief of staff of the JDF, head of the Military Intelligence Unit of the JDF, the commissioner of police, the assistant commissioner in charge of the Narcotics Unit of the JCF, the assistant commissioner in charge of the National Intelligence Bureau of the JCF, and the director general of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency

“It is imperative that we provide our security forces with all the resources that are available in order for them to effectively carry out their duties. Criminal organisations involve in acts of extreme violence and activities like kidnapping are real threats to a society,” Chang said.

“By approving these designates, we are improving the response capabilities of our security forces to effectively intervene in these life-and-death situations,” he noted.

Opposition spokesperson on national security, Fitz Jackson, said he had no objections to the order being approved, but warned that information in the wrong hands could have serious implications.

“This authority is not a light one. It allows the State to intrude into private conversations, business conversations; conversations of all types, and as you know, Mr Speaker, information in the wrong hands can be very dangerous,” he said.

- Paul Clarke

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