…Govt. did not help with purchase
The Interception of Communication Act that was enacted earlier this year has forced the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company and Digicel to expend millions to install equipment to intercept and store communication.
This newspaper has been reliably informed that GT&T has installed the interception equipment and has brought in an overseas engineer to man the system.
It is unclear at this point whether that person will be retained permanently or whether Guyanese will be trained to use the system.
Efforts to verify if it is the same situation with Digicel proved futile.
This newspaper has also learnt that the Government of Guyana did not in any way assist the telephone company with the procurement and installation of the interception equipment.
Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, on July 31 last, signed the order bringing into force the Interception of Communications Act, commonly called the wiretapping law, as of August 31 last.
The expenditure has always been a bugbear and to date despite lengthy negotiations with the Office of the President as it relates to assistance, it has not materialised.
The company was only notified of the enforcement catering for the lawful interception and storage of speech, music or other sounds, data or text on, Tuesday August 18, despite the fact that it was signed by Minister Rohee, 18 days prior.
This newspaper has also been reliably informed that whatever monies that have already been expended to comply with the new law, may not be enough.
The cost of the equipment is reportedly in the vicinity of US$1M.
The fact that the companies (GT&T and Digicel) have to foot the bill to ensure compliance with the Interception of Communication Act, had prompted Opposition Leader Robert Corbin to urge the companies to take legal action against the government.
Under the new law, it gives to the Commissioner of Police, the Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, and the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority the power to apply to a judge to direct the technical officers at the telecommunications company, namely GT&T and Digicel, to intercept the communication of a person/s without his/her/their knowledge.
In an emergency and in instances deemed a matter of national security, the authorities can move to have a warrant sought for by the Minister of Home Affairs, after which he will have 72 hours to present the application.
There is also a clause in the legislation that allows for a designated officer to order a wire tap in instances where it is impracticable to reach a judge but is deemed an emergency.
According to Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, who piloted the legislation, crime has evolved in sync with technology, and as such there needs to have the tools in place for the law enforcement agencies to be in a position to maintain the pace with which the technology is being used in criminal activities.
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