1ST OCTOBER 2017
The current government has decided that the Executive (including the Minister of National Security) should have the right to intercept communications. This is, in my view, a bad decision. The pre-May 2017 complaints made by the FNM (and others, including their political hacks) definitely apply to the Bill tabled in the House of Assembly last week. The Bill gives politicians, and those subject to political influence, extensive powers. The former government outright rejected the notion that the Executive should have such power.
From 2014 (the handing down of the Maycock decision by the Privy Council) to the tabling of the Bill the former government’s national and international advisors spent much time benchmarking and advising on the Interception Communications Bill. The upshot of those consultations included final determinations that every order for the interception of communications must be issued by a Supreme Court judge – a member of an independent judiciary – being free from any (or any perception of) influence or interference by the Executive. It also determined that the Commissioner of Police (and no one else) would be the “authorized officer” who could approach the Attorney General seeking his consent to apply to the Supreme Court for an interception order. Both of these prerequisites comported with the guidance of the Privy Council.
I urge Bahamians and all persons within our borders to pay close attention to the Bill tabled by the current government and the potential for politicians and those under the influence of politicians to violate personal privacy.