The Guyana Postal and Telecommunications Workers’ Union (GPTWU), after reviewing the controls of the Telecommunications Amendment Bill (2008) and the Interception of Communications Bill (2008), has said that it has found it necessary, as a trade union, to express its concern as it relates to some sections of these two bills.
President of the GPTWU, Gillian Burton, said that her union has no objection to wiretapping and to the interception of information by wiretapping, but she noted that it needs to be done by specific agencies, and not by workers of the telecommunications industry.
Once passed, the bills will find telecommunications workers bound to perform wiretapping exercises as instructed by judges and warrants.
Telecommunications workers can be placed in a precarious situation, as they may be called to perform wire tapping exercises at any given time, explained Burton.
It is not fair for normal citizens, who are just trying to make their daily living, to be asked to take part in activities that are, in other countries, done specifically by the police or by separate agencies. Being involved in this type of situation can be ‘detrimental’ to the life and well-being of the individual, Burton noted.
In addition, if an employee decides not to comply with instructions to wiretap, that employee can be taken before a court of law and be subjected to a $2 million fine, or a sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment.
This, explained Burton, is an infringement of the rights of workers in Guyana.
Even though both bills are designed to help in the fight against crime, the GPTWU has made clear that there are clauses in the bills that will rob law-abiding citizens of their right to privacy and will place the innocent workers, especially those in the telecommunications industry, in a precarious position.
The GPTWU issued a press statement which explained that these innocent workers will be placed in a precarious position because, in their obligation to comply with directives in regards to wiretapping of communication equipment under their company’s management, it can prove detrimental to them (the workers).
According to the GPTWU, some aspects of these bills seek to, “make customary acts of goodwill transformed into serious offences, punishable by huge fines and prison sentences in a court of law.”
According to the Telecommunications Amendment Bill (2008), (Subscriber Identity Module) persons will no longer be able to simply give away their SIM cards from one person to another.
After the bill has been passed, a person wishing to give away a SIM card will need to do so in transaction with the telecommunications agency.
Documentation concerning the person who is receiving the SIM card will first have to be presented to the telecommunications agency.
This is apparently being done to combat any sort of illegal activities which may be linked to the SIM card.
If any illegal activities are traced back to the SIM card, the user to which it is registered will be held responsible.
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