Wiretap process ‘mirrors’ UK

| 08/11/2013

(CNS): The lack of judicial oversight on warrants issued to the RCIPS to covertly monitor, wiretap and intercept phone calls, messages and emails mirrors the process in the UK, the British overseas territories minister told reporters when he visited the Cayman Islands this week. Mark Simmonds said that the governor’s role here in Cayman was akin to that of the British government’s Home Secretary – a political post currently held by Theresa May– who is responsible for signing off these controversial warrants in the UK. The minister said the warrants would only ever be granted in very exceptional circumstances relating to very serious crime and terrorism.

“The reason why the governor will be responsible for warrants is because it mirrors the process we have in the United Kingdom where the Home Secretary is responsible for signing off these warrants and the governor is, in effect, the home secretary in the constitutional arrangements that the UK has with the Cayman Islands.”

However, there is wide concern in the community that the lack of judicial oversight will leave the process open to abuse, as the RCIPS widens the net of the types of technology it can monitor.

In a recent memo sent by the Information and Communications Technology Authority director to local telecommunications firms, law enforcement authorities are planning to widen their spying net and wiretaps to include all kinds of electronic information. The memo, sent on 15 October, calling the private companies to a meeting indicates that the local authorities are planning revised regulations that will allow police to not only tap phones but wider communication networks as well.

While this is supposed to assist the RCIPS in legal investigations, without judicial oversight or a data protection law there are concerns that they will be able to collect masses of information with their newly purchased spying equipment.

During his stay Simmonds noted the concerns about increasing crime in Cayman as he acknowledged recent spate of violent crimes. He said that the UK was working with the Cayman authorities to help and tackle the concerns, but he echoed common sentiments about everyone having a part to play in preventing young people from criminal behaviour, during a speech at a Chamber of Commerce reception on Tuesday night.

Simmonds said he was pleased with the level of political support for improving the conditions under which prisoners are held, as well as the way in which they are rehabilitated, prepared for release and reintegrated into society.

“Failing to tackle crime and re-offending will have a profound impact on an economy that is so dependent on tourism. Safety and security are cornerstones of economic success. We cannot focus on jobs and growth and ignore them. If Cayman isn’t seen asbeing safe, tourists and cruise ships, businesses and investors will go elsewhere. It’s a problem the UK understands only too well and continues to stand ready to help in any way we can,” he said.

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Comments (26)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Given the high rate of involvement of Cayman entities in major international corprorate fraud, tax evasion and money laundering this sort of thing is not suitable for local bodies to decide.  It is an issue of importance to the UK.

    • Anonymous says:

      The rate of involvement is no higher than UK or US entities although the media tries to portray it that way.  

  2. Anonymous says:

    Really and truly, the court should only be involved in adjudicating on matters.  Approving whether intelligence can be gathered is not for them.  How would they hear a case if one was brought alleging something was was done incorrectly?  Are you saying that Judges are the only ones who can make decisions?  They too are only human.  Let the police and the Governor do their jobs.  I am sure with all the criminal activity going on they will have enough criminals to keep them occupied and thus will have no time to be monitoring those who are not criminals.  I am not a criminal and I don't care if they monitor mine.

    • Anonymous says:

      The problem may not be so much with the non-judicial oversight, but with the seeming non-independence of the oversight. The Governor is responsible for the police, can to an extent give instructions to the police, the police then report to the governor, the governor then has oversight of the police surveilance. See how it looks bad when you say it that way? Your'e right it doesn't have to be a judge, but it does need to be some 'neutral arbitrator' who can look at an application and say yes or no without seemign to be in collusion. (Judges have a similar problem in that the one who 'signs the search warrant' then can't hear the case I assume. And that might become a scheduling problem for us.)

      This whole 'who has oversight' can be wrapped up with the obviously needed upgrade/change of JPs signing search warrants. That doesn't need to be a judge either, per se. But there needs to be someone outside the police that the public can rely on to give a fair review of requests for searches. Or wire taps.

      I'd be happy with an upgraded JP system (required training, if they're not up to snuff then drop them from the list, more than one for some approvals, etc.) or judges or soemthing else. What I'm not happy with are people who are close to the investigation being in a position to approve searches or wire taps. We saw how that worked in Tempura. ("Here, approve this." – "Yes, boss." – And yes, thats one of the problems with the current JP system.)

    • And another Ting says:

      TRuly w have arrived at our own Pretoria in the 21st Centuru.  THe slight difference is we have always had a preservation of our freedom, but now an important aspect the right to Privacy is being take away.  How can we not see that these people are taking advantage of we, particularly since our great PPM leader has given them the handshake and kissed the ring.  The brotherhood here should ostracize him and the other ting too.. I say JUdges must review the order and the merits and substance thereof.

       

      Clearly we need to have oversight of this tapping on  this issue where any joe or jean in the force can order tapping it is really screwed up.  Imagine this scenario, cop loses face in a discussion with you and wants to get even, gets a a tapping order, hears you talking to ya wife about wrecking de penany and bam arest you for destruction of property, just saying LOL And Another Ting.

    • Anonymous says:

      This does involve adjudicating on matters like whether you have a proper basis to seek a warrant versus the rights of privacy of the individual. These are legal issues and should not left in the hands of untrained persons. Clearly, it need not be the same judge hearing the case if a warrant was improperly obtained and applications are made to judges for search warrants all the time so I don't know what your point is. See Rea v. Gibbs. On the other hand, the Governor, rather like some JPs we have seen, is likely to support whatever the police put before her because they are perceived to be on the same side.   

      I am not a criminal either but I do care about the protection of my fundamental rights and freedoms.  

      "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety". – Benjamin Franklin

       

  3. Knot S Smart says:

    We expect our government to keep us safe – so I dont care whether they intercept my emails or phone or internet communications.

    I have nothing to hide – except please dont tell my wife because those damn divorces are VERY expensive…

    • Anonymous says:

      comedy has its place and time

      • Anonymous says:

        Once you master things like capital letters and full stops then you might be able to move on to literary criticism.  Until then get your crayons out and practise.

      • Knot S Smart says:

        Please would you lay still in your casket – so that we can go ahead and hammer the nails in it's lid  – to seal you off from this drab, depressing, and dreary world…

  4. Crab Claw says:

    So what we aren't the UK and don't want to be the UK, what is going on there is disgusting with the distruction of privacy, don't come with no excuses, we don't want your police state here, now or anytime in the future, get lost with your invasion of our rights to privacy, we really need to march concerning this, also as a matter of fact recently I've notcied my streaming videos taking about 10-20 seconds or more to load when they always ran with the push of the button, it has had me wondering if the tapping has already started.

    • Anonymous says:

      If it wasn't for the UK Cayman would be a real Jamaica II. Go live there if that's what want.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Everybody wants the police to do a better job, but nobody wants to give them the tools to do it.  And all this crap about worrying that the police are monitoring people's calls, I don't care if they monitored mine.  I don't have anything to hide and I think only people who have something to hide don't want it to happen.  When a stone is thrown in a pig pen, the pig that squeals the loudest is the one that got hit.  So I say allow the police to have the ability to monitor criminal activity and hopefully they catch all the pigs who are squealing.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why Do You Think

    The UK is hell bent on the Governor being directly in charge of wire tapping. Those bunch of no use crabs will not be Able to call up one of the creditable Judges we have here in Cayman and ask them to issue a warrant for wire tapping without just cause. On the other hand the Governor will just follow orders and issue at will. Just look at operation TEMPURA where the ENGLISH lied there ass off to try and destroy our country and they continues. What a shame all they do is to conquer and divide. Just look at the smile on Mark Simmonds face when Alden signs that document it was like I got you now.
    On another hand Alden had better stop signing anything with the BRITISH.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This in no way mirrors the UK system.  In the UK the Home Secretary is a member of cabinet answerable to the prime minister and parliament.  If the Home Secretary screws up, they have to answer to their party, and the people of the UK via parliament.  The governor answers to no one in Cayman.  So Mr. Simmonds must obviously think we're dumb for him to make a direct comparison like this and think that we would just accept it.  Actually, perhaps he is right since no one has called him out yet.  In the end, it should be the courts who oversee the issue of wire taps. 

    • Anonymous says:

      so does this mean that in the UK a senior politician is responsible for wiretapping? Goodnessgracious.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This type of important stuff is to be left to the big boys in national government, not the play politicians of a local authority.

  9. Slowpoke says:

    Sorry, with the Snowden releases about the activities of the NSA and the GCHQ, politicians in the US and the UK, have lost ALL credibility when it comes to these activities. 

    He should be here apologizing for his support of these wiretaps instead of encouraging them, particlarly without Judicial supervision.

    As for the Governor handpicking her own committee in these matters and then declaring herself satisfied with the oversight, what a joke.

    • Anonymous says:

      Whilst I agree caution is needed, intelligence gathering like this has caught many a terrorist, many a criminal and drug cartel leader. The only issue with this comes when you get irresponsible use by politicians for their own purposes.

    • And Another Ting says:

      It is no use to fuss and fight with the Uk they will have their way or we pull up our cojones and go our way. That's my opinion , and I'm speaking of kicking arse when we are fully ready. So PPM for "The Love of country" fuel up the tanks stockup on provisions check the sails , water etc for we have quite ajourney to get to that Port. Why not you start the process unless you already sold out ?. And Another Ting.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Look at how surveillance was used (or abused) in the UK under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act…..mostly used for petty non-offences like do parents really live where they say (in order to get into a better school catchment area…)

    Newspaper report

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/aug/22/bbc-ofsted-secrecy-surveillance

    "Legislation introduced by the coalition government will mean that from November local authorities will have to get the approval of a magistrate to use their Ripa powers before mounting a covert surveillance operation."

    Detailed Big Brother Watch report:

    http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/files/ripa/RIPA_Aug12_final.pdf

  11. Anonymous says:

    Madame Governor, I can assure you that if I find out that I am being tapped or eavesdropped in any way, I will immediately cease using the services even if it means changing jobs.

    Your rhetoric is ominous of an impending police state because if you really cared about safety and security, you would get off your behind and deploy the vast resources of the RCIPS to fight the rise in violence on these islands most of which happens WITHOUT any prior use of said technology.

    I am tired of your smokescreens.

    • Anonymous says:

      You make good points, but you can't really be that tired of her, she has only been here a couple of months!

    • West Baya says:

      Wooooow that should scare the governor………..  How will she know to wire tap you if you don't use your name……….. Idiot.