Categorized | National News

AG says Bill Delayed

Amid controversy and concern surrounding the Interception of Communications Bill (ICB), Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson has revealed that in order to allow a period of consultation, the ICB will be delayed.

Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said a concern that the public has been misled very substantially about the content of the legislation has prompted the move.

“Unfortunately, in this political season, most of the public discussion about the legislation has become completely partisan,” she said.

“Overheated and irresponsible accusations or alternative facts do nothing to further public education or engagement. In too many instances, the debate has been neither measured nor informed.”

Via a statement the AG said The Office of The AG will work with civil society to ensure that Bahamians will have an opportunity to learn about and review the legislation.
“In my consultations with various individuals and organizations in civil society, it has been my experience that the more people learn about the legislation, the more they support it,” she said.
“That is because all Bahamians who are concerned about crime and security want to ensure that our police have a legal path to intercepting the communications of criminals.”
Mrs. Maynard-Gibson is again stressing that Bahamians should and do understand that this is not the first time a Bill of its kind has been introduced and is simply an amendment.
“They also understand that the Listening Devices Act, first passed 45 years ago,” she said.
“Long before electronic and digital communications became commonplace, did not keep pace with modern technology.”
Again, the ICB is hoped to sever two main purposes.
“The first is to ensure that the police have a critical crime-fighting tool in their arsenal, by modernizing the law that allows the police to intercept the planning and execution of serious crimes, including drug and gun trafficking, cybercrimes and other criminal activities,” she said.
“The second is to add a new privacy protection for Bahamian citizens, so that from now on, independent judicial review would be required before a citizen’s communications could be monitored or intercepted.”
Tuesday morning, the AG refuted claims that the Bill would contravene Bahamian’s privacy and clarified would the Bill would allow in terms of protection.
“Contrary to many of the concerns that have been raised, the legislation adds, rather than removes, protection for private citizens. It does so by adding new protective steps – a judge in the Supreme Court must grant the police permission to intercept any citizen’s communications, if the judge finds that reasonable suspicion is justified and the Supreme Court sets a time limit for the duration of the interception,” she said.
“Any extension beyond that time limit must be granted by the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court can also give instructions as to how and when those records should be destroyed when the threat is removed.”
Since the delay announcement The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) has commended the AG for, “recognizing the value of public education and engagement in such an important bill which may carry implications for privacy, freedom of expression, and the effectiveness of law enforcement.”
The ORG says the period for consultation provides an avenue for the free exchange of information allowing both the government and people to be better informed.
“As an organization committed to responsible, accountable, and transparent governance ORG believes that a country is best served when members of all sectors of society – government, civil society, private industry and the public – collaborate for the betterment of the nation,” the statement said.
“We hope that this announcement is the beginning of a substantive dialogue between these sectors on the concerns and merits of this bill.”
The ORG is urging all Bahamians to familiarize themselves with the bill and take advantage of this consultation period to better understand this bill and its implications.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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