Phone tap powers defined

| 15/08/2011

(CNS): Full story – Government has devised new rules under which the police can tap private phones lawfully. Published in the Cayman Islands Gazette Monday, the new regulations accompany the ICTA law (2010 Revision) and state that only the governor will have the power to sign a warrant for such action at the request of the police commissioner. According to officials, the regulations define a clause that has been in the law for some time which allows the governor to grant the police permission to listen in on phone calls and intercept messages during an investigation. The power to tap phones lies solely in the hands of the governor, not that of a judge, and any evidence gathered by law enforcement officials will not be admissible in court but used for intelligence purposes only.

The regulations, which were approved by Cabinet recently, set out what the Portfolio of Internal Affairs has said is limited circumstances under which the police will be given permission to listen in on those they believe are engaged in crime or other behaviour conceived as threatening the country’s well being.

The regulations allow the commissioner to ask the governor for a warrant to tap any phone under five different and wide-reaching circumstances, including in the interest of national security, to prevent or detect serious crime, or to avert imminent threat to human life – which in most cases would be considered criminal. However, the commissioner can also ask the governor for permission to listen to calls in connection with mutual assistance investigations and to safeguard the economic well-being of the country – which may not necessarily involve criminal activity.

The regulations state that the governor must be satisfied that the tappingis proportionate to the circumstances and that the information sought can’t be obtained in any other way. Although it is the governor who will sign the warrant, according to the new rules any request for phone tapping must be made via the police commissioner, even if it is the immigration, customs or prison services that are seeking permission to covertly listen in on specific phone conversations. 

Warrants will be valid for the time requested and the regulations state that the maximum time law enforcement officials can have for listening in is three months on each warrant. The rules allow for warrants to be renewed if the same circumstances remain.

While the law does not interfere with existing rights of prison management to listen in on prisoners’ calls made on prison phones, it does not stretch to conversations between inmates and their attorneys, which remain protected in law.

The regulations also provide for audits of any phone tapping warrants that are issued by the governor and the creation of a committee to undertake the audits. Made up of a justice of the peace, a retired judge or lawyer, the chief officer in the Portfolio of Internal Affairs, a law enforcement technical expert from outside the jurisdiction and a local IT expert from government, the members will all be appointed by Cabinet.

The committee will undertake an audit of any phone tapping that has taken place every six months to determine that the activity has been carried out in accordance with the regulations. The members will then submit a report to the governor based on their assessment of the tapping and the equipment used to listen in on conversations.

The introduction of the regulations has defined the lawful means by which law enforcement officials can take advantage of technology which may assist them in the fight against crime. Officials stated that the police have not been given a free hand in monitoring private communication but that the regulations have provided some checks and balances on how law enforcement can and cannot tap private calls.

The government has also stated that Cayman is not unique in having legislation to facilitate phone tapping and covert interception of telecommunications as numerous other jurisdictions allow the police to use technology in order to try and get one step ahead of the criminals.

See regulations here

See ICTA law below.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Crime

About the Author ()

Comments (68)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Does this legislation apply to Government phones??? sounds like it only applies to private phones.

  2. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    Now the police can know easily discover who are making negative remakes about the police.   This is the kind of things dictators do, except with a little less fanfare.

  3. Alice says:

    Kudos to the UDP for giving our law enforcement agencies this powerful tool. I for one trust the Governor to make the right decisions.

  4. ubelievedat says:

    Problem is:: absolute power & control.

    Where is the balance of power between Governor and the Judicial?

    When have you evidenced where the Governor has power over and above the Judical?

    Who is advising the Governor as to when the evidence at hand meets the requirement of the Law? i.e. whether it is lawful or unlawful to issue the requested warrant.

    WHO do we SUE when an issued warrant becomes unlawful?  The Queen?

    I would think so but can it be successfully done????


  5. Anonymous says:

    If they are only gathering intelligence then I sure hope they share it with the Premier. I can't think of anyone who needs it more than him.

  6. Anonymous9 says:

    Big Brother

    Watch out!

  7. Anonymous says:

    This legislation should not be viewed lightly. It takes only a cozy conversation between the Governor and another party for one's privacy to be invaded under grounds which are wide and subject to abuse. What is even more frightening is that the Courts have been "cut out" and there is no accountability or checks and balances. Why is there not more outcry on this? This goes beyond "Big Brother is watching". Did the Law Society and Bar Association have an opportunity to review this? And where is the Attorney Generalon this? Did he honestly and in good conscience give his approval to this?

    I refuse to believe that this is another tool the police needs to solve crimes – this goes way beyond that! And if so – then why not have a Court deal with this?

    Too many questions and another frightening thing in our society …..

  8. Dreadlock Holmes says:

    Elementary. With this the CI government as in the U.S. and elsewhere will know moreabout what we are up to than we know about what they are up to. Those governments with similar legislation are allowed to delve into citizens' contacts and associations whereas citizens are left in the dark about who lobbies, who made political contributions, etc. and who bid on what. It's all in the name of "security" you see yet no citizen of those countries can or does feel secure about their future, their jobs, their home, their pension, their social security, or their environment should not these people be given phone tapping powers? Just so they feel more secure?

  9. P-$$$$ says:

    Boy this could be fun think of all those politicians and their mistresses getting caught up in this dragnet. Imagine the fear mistress named an on public display how can i join the audit team mmmmmmm the juicey details is enough to make some have an orgasm! Boy Cayman just when we thought it couldn't get any better the UK out does the Dart machine Thanks FCO we know how much you care?

  10. Anonymous says:

    The power to tap phones lies solely in the hands of the governor, not that of a judge, and any evidence gathered by law enforcement officials will not be admissible in court but used for intelligence purposes only.

    Is it just me am I missing something ?? What then is the point??


    • Libertarian says:

      The point is to spy!  If a paranoid man doesn't trust his wife with the total freedom to be away from him once in a while, he begins to conjour up thoughts of "what if" and intends to watch her every move. Government intends to watch our every move, because they are not democratic enough to trust the people!  They are unwilling to share power, but keep it to themselves; and hence, are unable to trust the people with the power of direct democracy!  Regards

    • Anonymous says:

      "Intelligence gathering" = spying.

    • Knot S Smart says:

      Heloooooo… We need to see who is doing who?

  11. Slugga says:

    Tapping? Please!! We always on taps here in Cayman. I heard Frank McField said once that the Glass House was like a Sieve. Said by time they made a decision on the 4th floor, the ground knew what they said as they walked out the elevator. Now that some serious tapping for ya. Good old Caymanian gossip/Marl Road. Ya Man!!

    We’ll have to sell that to Dave Martins & Henry Mutto for Rundown 2012!

  12. Anonymous says:

    All the criminals (or even some law abiding citizens too) will have to say is, Thank God/RIM for BBM!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Nanny State.  Granny Wits

  14. Anonymous says:

    Aren't they doing that now????????????

    • Anonymous says:

      Had lots of clicking on my landline for a long time and me no criminal!!!

  15. Libertarian says:

    With the eurobank scandal, I am curious, how the local authorities detected the bugs planted in the court house?  Was there a low humming noise in the background, echos, disconnections, or clicking sounds before engaging in conversations over the phone?  Let us face it:  the government can bug you without you hearing or noticing anything wrong with your phone. And if you have a cell phones, airwaves can be intercepted with not one static or humming sound. The government can station a van in your neighborhood and pick up on anything that is typed on your computer keyboard. So think about that helicopter you see in the sky. That is nothing!  The only way you can get around them invading your privacy, is to avoid technology as much as possible, and do things the old fashion. If you want to communicate you may have to see that person face to face; or, code your messages. Sorry, but that is the world we are living in. There are even some systems that are connected to many lines that if you use a key word or phrase, such like "terrorist" the electronic phone tapping will start recording your voice. Locals, please be careful. I recommend you use your phones carefully. These things are real. Live life… but with less technology as much as possible. You will find it will even improve your health, and have your children off the television, will do them good. You have nothing to worry about if you know you are not a criminal, but still nobody wants to be pried or tapped into. This government can not be trust. It is clear as day, it is a party-system government – for the party and special interest, and not for the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am all in favour of the authorities monitoring all of our homegrown misanthropes and their silent enablers.  I am sure they are less interested in the thousands of extramarital excursions, interesting listening though that may be.

      • Anonymous2 says:

        Me too.  I am all for them monitoring criminals, but like what Lib said, I am not all for them monitoring US!  To think otherwise is to think narrowly.

      • Anonymous says:

        Unless it helps their political agenda… Hoover had done this to control the US senate

  16. Anonymous says:

    If we keep saying that the police are corrupt and all that so we really want them listening in on converstations??? And who is to say that these"conversations will not end up in the wromg hands somehow……….blackmail here we come.

    I think we need to give the cops a break…….they have nothing to go by……no one is coming forward and clearly they lack evidence. Also they might know alot more than they are letting on. Remember that this is an ongoing case.

  17. cherriipop says:

    but thats a waste of time, cause now it out in the public. dont you think the so called criminals would just meet up and talk in person?

    maybe if they tapped the prison….you would get more crime solve :p

  18. Anonymous says:

    What a waste…. The police want to intercept conversations but don't want to get warrants issued for phone records… How dumb is this. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Thats narrow reasoning. You think is the police make laws in the country? Go and study Civics and learn about the law making process

  19. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to the NEW WORLD ORDER!! Communist run state and all enslaved.

  20. G Gordon Liddy RIP says:

    Grounds for interception: (a) in interest of national security

                                             (b) for purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime

                                             (c) to avert an imminent threat to human life

                                             (d) in circumstances coming within the scope of international mutual  assistance agreements;or

                                              (e) to safeguard the economic well being of the islands.

    Sure sounds like something that will be easily and widely abused by those in power and my first questions is who is going to pay for this, surely they don't expect the persons whom they are spying on to do so. What happens to the lawyers conversing with their clients who are supposed to be presumed innocent oh well. I guess corruption must be tied up in line e because there is no mention here of it. This mumbo jumbo is simply going to further close up and muzzle this society and increase paranoia amongst the citizens. but alas law enforcement has been given every tool now necessary to fight crime i wonder what else they will need now a UAV drone to fly over these islands to intercept coversations or a satelite just for Cayman. Well Cayman you have a option now stop chatting your life away on those pesky cellphones because you never know who will be listening and pray to God you don't know anyone that maybe a criminal remotely calling you by mistake or to do some work for you because like Rockwell says Why do i always feel like somebody is watching meeeee. Those responsible for this need to be removed from their offices Cayman. all men having power should be mistrusted. A day of silence should be implement by every citizen of this island to show our displeasure and send a strong message to those in power with yet another bunch of draconian measures to abuse people's right to privacy. Look at where we are just because those in power are unwilling to deal with the real problem plaguing these islands "Corruption"

    • Libertarian says:

      Gordon, well said. I would like to expand and speculate on those grounds of interception you mentioned. But that might cause too much controversy and (if not doing so now) they might try to disclosed who I am behind this handle name. It is obvious "crime" and "corruption" is being used to instill fear and cause the implementation of certain draconian measures, laws, and controlling electronic devices and factors (like poligraph testing on our local officers) that could be used to control society if there is ever a greviance against the government; especially, the UK one. I have always said before to those folk cheering CCTV camaras being installed on this island:  "be careful what you ask for." Look at us now. Turk and Caicos Islands, our neighbors, are under a UK dictatorship and their Central TCI Bank has gone into liquidation, and still funds unaccounted for. That means that anyone who speaks the truth and speaks out directly, will be recorded for one of those grounds you mentioned. About these people behind Intelligence and this so-called "good governance program," there is a Bible saying for those who see the light: – "I am sending you out like sheep amongst wolves. So be cunning as serpents and harmless as doves."

  21. Anonymous says:

    If Judges are to be impartial, they aught to be left out of it.  I agree that the Governor should be the one authorising the wiretaps.  If the matter was that serious that they had to use the evidence so gathered, that would be a matter for a Judge to decide.  Until then, I think it is better off letting the Governor decide.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Judge can't use it because it is inadmisable.  However, based on reliable and encouraging intelligence, Judge may choose to authorize a warrant order to gather ADMISSIBLE evidence.  Evidence is critical to thinning the herds of miscreants that reside among us.

  22. Anonymous says:

      From all the comments there are so many out of work professional police investigation consultants on island.  You would think there would be no crime.  Hmmmmm.

  23. Anonymous says:

    And yet we still await legislation for electric cars.  Obviously going green has less priority on being nosey and with the RCIPS record of unsolved crime and botched evidence this will serve no purpose other than them to be nosey.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are not engaged in any dubious dealings then you have nothing to fear.  This is welcome news – in a place where everyone is afraid to come forward with information and report things to the police because they are afraid of possible victimization , this is probably the only way the police will get any info on who is involved in crime and wrongdoing.


      • Anonymous says:

        And I hope they are able to legally use the evidence in court cases, we need something to get  rid of our criminals.

      • Anonymous says:

        I do not beleive this to be correct.  The police have the power to place anyone under suspicion and it is the incompetence of the police I fear

    • Anonymous says:

      In Nov 2010 the ministry responsible postponed bringing the completed legislation again, until sometime in 2011 they said. Well, 2011 is closing fast and still no peep on where they are with the legislation. 


      This is the same ministry where the chief offier is also on contract, plus collecting pension, plus is suprvisor of elections. With the many responsibilities it is no wonder that it is taking so long to complete this legislation.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Judges should be the ones assigned this power; not the governor who is obviously looking out for the good of the UK first and Cayman second.

    Have we forgotten about the Eurobank scandal already?

    • Anonymous says:

      Eurobank, what are you on about? Do you know that Cayman authorities turned over records showing that convicted criminal Kenneth H. Taves, who improperly billed up to 900,000 credit card holders, transferred $25.3 million to Euro Bank. There was a reason why this bank was shut down and Ken Taves was not the only criminal that hid the proceeds of criminal conduct there. It is also interesting to note that out of the three banks shutdown by regulators here, two had elected politicians as directors at some point.

      • Anonymous says:

        What are you on about? You clearly missed what the whole fiasco was all about. Mi6 was acting in breach of Cayman Islands law,  doctored evidence, wiretapped the Chief Justice's phone to see whether he was catching on to their game, and aided their accomplice in crime to flee the jurisdiction. This was very bad faith on the part of the UK.   

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes and who gave these politicians and men of honor MBE and OBE's the hypocrisy of this little place and Kenneth Taves wasn't and isn't the only foreign criminal who turn up here to bank their illgotten gains. I have seen a number times with my experience in banking the clear biased and contrast of how certain individuals who do business in their jurisdiction or with their UK interest it is viewed as simply not criminal or not subject to any scrutiny. The proof is staring us in the face and is crystal clear every single day on this island and can I assure you of one thing the UK ain't tapping their phones and reading their emails.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes that never happened! If tyranny and oppression come to this island it will be in the guise of fighting crime.Stop abusing your cellular and telephone for peace sake Cayman. Solid as a rock they cant stop us now.

    • Anonymous says:

      …or Operation Tempura, for that matter (forgotten, that is).

      While I have a higher impression of the current Governor than that one Jack, we did learn that the UK thorough local arms does try to manipulate and pull the strings, and not with the greatest of respect for law, either.  We just recently witnessed the results of the politicisation and corruption of the UK police force, and two resignations at the very top, one of whom was the overseeing officer for Operation Tempura.

      And with all of this background considered, we now come with power to the Governor for wiretapping? 

      I DON'T LIKE IT!

      The Courts now approve requests for information from external governments where crime is involved in banking transactions, as a result of which the Cayman Islands has a a pristine record for handling those requests within law. External agencies have to prove what is called "materiality" of the requested information to ongoing cases.  In otherwords, they can't come on fishing expeditions.

       I think that based on the Courts' track record in that context, we can trust them in this matter as well — and based on certain government agency's/officers'  track records, we better run for cover.

      Frankly, I am worried that his is the thin edge ofthe wedge, and I feel that Cabinet should have been more sensitive to the potential for abuse.

      • Anonymous says:

        What Tempura illustrated is that the FCO and the Governor can launch any kind of undercover operation they feel.

        Whether that is good or bad depends on many factors but this move is probably little more than rubber stamping acts which certainly went on during Operation Tempura and probably continued during Operation Cealt. In facrt it may have been prompted by what went on during those operations.

        Amongst the intel apparently gathered by Tempura were an impressive collection of phone numbers and email addresses – even the passwords to access email files and servers. It seems very likely that these were used monitor communications between people under investigation.  

    • Anonymous says:

      You are right, but actually the headline is a little misleading. The Governor has had this power by law for a number of years. These are simply regulations as to the process of how it will be exercised. Initially, the MLAs refused to pass a law that gave the Governor as opposed to a Judge this power and substituted Judge of the Grand Court for Governor. However, the Governor at the time refused to assent to modified Law and refused to assent to it and sent it back to the LA. After some time the MLAs eventually acquiesced and passed it in the form that the UK was insisting upon.      

      • Wet Paper Caymanian says:

        It is worrying because we know it will be abused. It's a good thing for gathering info, on going investigations and intelligence gathering. But please keep it at that and do not use it on a hunch or a victim of abuse from say Joe Public who as a grudge against say our Premier or will he exonerated. They coud have put al little more black and white reasons and dicipline for it's use.Also  noy admissable in court ? Not even anypart ?

      • Libertarian says:

        Typical UK' colonialism!  They say we ask for our Constitution, but before its ratification, everytime we brought them a draft of it, they edited the document taking out and adding in it what they like. So at the end of the day, they were the ones who gave us this document with no proper checks and balances. And because we have no power or say, they are the ones who are really calling the shots. The two-party system is just to blind us, divide us so that we are not unified, and keep us distracted from the ones who are really in power!  Cayman is under modern day colonialism, and anyone who says not, is blinded themselves by the UK pomp and pride.

  25. Anonymous says:

    WOW this is the biggest bunch of BS! How can the govonor have SOLE power of this! Shouldnt police/detectives have to present a case to the courts on a particular person in question. Be heard by a judge (expert of the law) and be granted or denied based on facts or evidence. The govonor! What does he know about criminal activities here in Cayman? This is STUPID.

  26. Libertarian says:

    I am very wary about this new regulation. A criminal investigation can be "any investigation" they deem as criminal. With the introduction of over 200 plus CCTV camaras they say they will use to fight crime, I just wonder "when" the temptation will come to use such devices on common civilians. And yet do we as a people, have any say as to what they legislate and regulate?  You see, intelligence is like cheese, and all rats love cheese, and will pay anything to have a bit of the cheese. Hmmm… think about what happens to that same recorded information and conversations gathered when they claim the criminal case is closed???

  27. Been there, done it! says:

    Looks good on paper but with modern technolgy largely irrelevant.

    There's something seriously wrong in the Cayman Islands if the RCIPS, albeit through other agencies and possibly even private contractors, doesn't already have in place facilities to randomly monitor WiFi and cell phone networks.

    Or is this all just an excuse for the RCIPS to buy another load of expensive (as in over-priced) surveillance equipment?

  28. noname says:

    Does that mean that if I have two girl friends that the police will tell the second one?

    Or the boyfriend of my first girlfriend?

  29. Anonymous says:

     I guess the bad guys will now have to meet in the Christian Heritage Park to plot their deeds face to face.

  30. Knot S Smart says:

    Oh be careful little mouth what you say…

    Oh be careful little ears what you hear…

    Oh be careful little feet where you go..

    There are people hearing down below…

    And the CCTV's and the helicopter up above…

    And oops… Almost forgot…

    Be careful little hands what you write…

  31. Anonymous says:

    and we worry about UDP????

  32. R.U. Kiddin says:

    The police can listen in on a conversation during a criminal investigation,,,,,,,,,  but they can't use evidence gathered in court???  That's dumb.  Why bother.

    • Annon/imus:) says:

      All this bull crap is just a ploy to destroy what little sanity we have left. Police cant use the evidence BUT can listen in, another one of UK idiotic ways to handle crime. Look at the scandal they have now with hacking people's phone., the handling of the recent riots, they actually have to get advice from a U S cop, the very ones that they hate and demonise.

      These are jokers.

    • Anonymous says:

      They can certainly foil the criminals' plans thoughe.g.  if they hear someone is planning a criminal enterprise, e.g. to rob a certain place, the police can make sure to wait in ambush for them. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 13:11

      If this is true that police can't use the recorded conversation as evidence in court, for any criminal act, does not surprise me one bit.

      You guys are forgetting the evil that Brussel ( the antichrist) has put on the world. human rights laws…it is coming to our shores next year, we will be doomed just like the Europeans.

      That was the caused of  England riots, the police could not touch one of those rioters, they just stood up and watched them burn down in one night, what they took years to build.

      The human rights lawyers are lined up to defend them, and return them to the streets, it has become a lucretive business for them.