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The Senate, on July 24, approved the Interception of Communications (Designated Persons Who May Request Communications Data) Order, 2020, during its sitting at Gordon House.

Piloting the Order in the Upper House, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, said the persons designated are holders of high offices within Jamaica’s security architecture whose character and work in support of Jamaica’s national security imperatives are above reproach.

They are the Chief of Defence Staff; the Head of the Jamaica Defence Force’s Intelligence Unit, the Commissioner of Police, the Assistant Commissioner in Charge of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Narcotics Unit; the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the JCF’s National Intelligence Bureau; and the Director General of the Major Organised Crime Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).

“It is imperative that we provide our security forces with all the resources and efficiencies necessary and that are available in order for them to effectively carry out their duties,” Senator Samuda said.

He pointed out that the Order will provide additional structure and expediency in the approval of requests for information for the strict purposes of advancing Jamaica’s fight against “extreme life and death situations”.

The Minister said Section 16 of the Interception of Communications Act relates to the disclosure of telecommunications data, noting that subsection 16 (b) specifically addresses information that does not include the contents of a communication (other than any data falling within paragraph (a)), which is about the use made by any person (i) of any telecommunications network; or (ii) of any part of a telecommunications network in connection with the provision to, or use by any person of any telecommunications service.

“This Order, as we are contemplating, does not speak to the access of the content of that communication. It speaks to the fact that the communication happened and that distinction is particularly important as we weigh issues of privacy and other concerns that one may have.

“It helps…at the very early stages of case building to know whether there is indeed communication taking place which is particularly important, so you can determine what next steps are necessary,” Senator Samuda said.

He added that by approving these designates, “we improve the response capabilities of our security forces to what are life and death situations”.

In supporting the motion, Opposition Senator, K.D Knight, said he was very pleased that the Minister has appointed named designated personnel to carry out the functions provided for under the Act.

“It is a great tool in our ability to fight crime because a lot of the criminal activity that takes place, the use of the telephone is an integral part of it,” he said.

The Interception of Communications Act was enacted in 2002 to provide for the interception of communications sent by means of telecommunications networks and connected matters.

The legislation, among other things, authorizes the interception of all of the communication of a specific person named in a warrant and enables authorised officers to request technical information from telecommunications service providers under the Telecommunications Act.

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