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Oct 2, 2010

Lisa Shoman says wire tapping can be abused

lisa shoman

The opposition senator was dead set against the bill. Senator Lisa Shoman said the new law can be used for mischief and abuse.  While she agrees that there needs to be legislation to support the fight against crime, Shoman and Godwin Hulse both expressed the citizen’s right to privacy.  In their opinions, the principle is good but the mechanism is flawed.

Lisa Shoman, Senator

“Under this legislation, the authorities will be able to get an intercept order and either intercept your communications. And the definition of communications is very wide: it includes pictures, sounds, your very music, your data and so all of these things can be gathered and what is does is allows that to be looked at and to be examined to see if and how it can be used in a court of law.”

Godwin Hulse, Senator

godwin hulse

“I believe totally that we need to catch these boys who are doing these crimes, we need to intercept their communications; me noh have no problem with that. We need also to catch these big drug dealers who are doing their deals and have protective information under key. We need to even intercept their parcels and all ah that. We need to do all of this. And so the government’s move to do this can be understood clearly. We are all crying out due to this thing. But there’s a process of doing all of that. Let us always be careful Mister President that the finger we point soh, noh point back at us. There are many, many instances in the world where good intentions leads to mischief. And that is what we are concerned about.”

Lisa Shoman

“For instance, your very computer can be cloned and then your computer would idea be sending or receiving messages that appear that its from you. It’s not just you talking on the phone, it’s not even just you texting or sending any other kind of messages. It’s also that your mail can be gone through and that information will be kept in, it will be granted by a judge, you won’t know when it happens. They can go into your house, your office, your car, the prison, your confessionals, in order to gather this information. And then there is the question of who keeps the information. The period that it can be done for is six months but it can be renewed. And when the six months or the renewal is up, then they must get rid of the equipment in two weeks, but what happens during those two weeks and they don’t have to go in front of the judge and sear an oath and notify him that they have removed the equipment. So there are many, many questions. To me, this is a piece of legislation that should have been consulted with the public, should have been consulted with communications providers—including people who provide internet cable telephone, all of these means of communication. People should have been able to give a considered view, the bar should have had time to give a considered view and not just this legislation which has been put upon and we are being told to deal with. And the arguments supposedly is that if you are not a criminal, you have nothing to fear from the law. Well I’ll tell you, every citizen should be worried about the abuse of public authorities power and the law. A law can be used for good, but it can also be used for a lot of bad and a lot of abuse.”

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15 Responses for “Lisa Shoman says wire tapping can be abused”

  1. Global Perspective says:

    Whilst I can see the argument for not going ahead with phone tapping based on the abuse of trust, privacy etc. I believe that attitudes would have to change dramatically for this to work on the both the sides (the general population and the government). It should be managed by an organisation independent of the government with no one political influence. This would certainly move towards building confidence in the population. There should be a data protection law, which means those entrusted with such information are likely to face prison sentence for disclosure of private conversation that is not in the interest of national security.

    Furthermore the people of Belize need to understand that the way of life has changed around the world, and so it is not just Belizeans who are subjected to intercepted phone calls, emails and personal letters etc. Having lived abroad I have received letters which were clearly opened prior to its delivery to me, travelling en route to Belize my suitcases searched and a note left to say its has been searched. All these things happened in the interest of security of the collective people. We need to be less selfish about things “my calls and my business etc”, we wanted something to be done to curb the crime and drug trafficking, and so it is a good move.

    I have friends in the Middle East and when I mentioned this to them, they were surprised that it wasn’t already happening given our closed proximity to the US. As the war of terror spreads we may eventually have to introduce this anyway. Belize lets not be in a situation where we shut the stable doors once the horses have bolted. Perhaps we should be asking the US for some support in funding and setting up such an organisation as they may benefit likewise.
    My friend’s attitude to their intelligence service is quite relaxed. They joke that when they have a plan only two people will know, that is God and Mossad. Maybe one day we will have the respect and trust of our officials to feel the same level of relaxed attitude to intelligence.

  2. jesse says:

    Bilizean citizen here living in the USA,and i am glad that i live in a country where the government have to to go a judge with solid prove on why they want to wire tap your phone,computer,etc.in belize they just randomly tap phones with out no reason,much worst if a belizean citizen dont agree with how the red and blue mafia run the country.when will belize be a better place to live?when all those lawyers are barred for ever getting into politics.

  3. Cutty Ligiyaba says:

    Technology is growing and ever changing at an alarming rate and people have already been

    living under constant scrutiny for many years—if you live in LA- you live on videos and close

    caption cameras, security spy cam and my beloved camera from the Ghetto bird–cop/news

    helicopters. A recent news was about a popular boy in some state university who was spied

    upon by another boy with a camera which was streaming the popular boy homosexual lifestyle

    on the www to unknown viewers. the popular boy ended up killing himself…this was not my

    point—-just wanna let Belize know that there are all kinds of security infrastructure that must be

    laid down in any modern city or country–BELIZE has been competing with other nations so as

    to be recognized as a country that is democratic and free. Whilst the tapping continues in Belize,

    I believe it will regulate itself because at that level of employment you always hear about the

    scuffles of the different parties employed—these things eventually roll over as gossips– they

    say the streets are talking– Have you ever been to a vote counting office—–the drama is always

    that intense—People who spy always cries—I’m a crying like a lil girl right now Mr. Hulse….Just

    for Belize Though…technology have been a pivotal point where communities have improved it

    POLICING and response time –there are sensors which can be relatively cheap for any

    community, which can be installed so as to detect the discharge of any ammunition or the

    usage of any firearm–just like a traffic cops speed gun/detector— installing these detectors will

    inform the fire dept and the POLICE to proceed to the area and save lives as well as to

    apprehend the perp.

  4. BZNinCALI says:

    Any system can be abused so that is not a good enough reason to do nothing. Most of our conversations are boring & of no use to the police or anyone else. Again, we have to look at the people who are objecting, let them spend a day in some of the parents shoes who have buried their children, poverty does not take away one’s ability to love & Belizeans want the bloodshed to stop.

    Before the privileged stand up & show concern for the poor things who will be abused, let’s hear them talk about what they have gotten away with that we should not know about.

    We cannot protect ourselves from everything a criminal or devious person may do but we have to use the tools available to keep from drowning in each others blood.

  5. Proud says:

    I am in favor of this initiative but the right legislation must be in place for it to be effective.

  6. Fishaman says:

    Yeah, everybody fraid fuh wire tapping cause we wah ketch all the drug dealaz now.

    Big Fish nuh wah get FRY!

  7. Fishaman says:

    Very, very powahful people in the drug industry wah mek sure dat this legislation nuh get passed.

  8. Explorer says:

    To those opposing: Are you afraid, that either your “business deals” or “lifestyle”; will be exposed? Like everything else in life, it can be abused; if not controlled by the right person.
    This has been in existence from way back in LATE 1970′s, while Cable & Wireless operated in this country; and continued into the 80′s after operations were passed over to BTL.
    Please CHECK your statistics, before expressing your likes and dislikes. I firmly believe that this will save a lot of our children and adults.

  9. Fishaman says:

    Drugs control politics dah Belize. All ah dih hullaboloo dah just drug dealaz fighting drug dealza. Some with the right corrections wah get saved and others wah get ketch.

    I seh pass it if wah mek at least one big fish geh hook.

    Tyad ah the big drug peoples being unscathed in this blood bath among the small fish.

  10. ang says:

    Even if wire tapped there will be abuse. You really believe ? or will they will intercept powerful dealers? I think they could easily buy info of where policemen live hello? safe houses? witness protection program? political mischief and advantage? more than likely. There should be a permission given by a judge. Although all our conversation are mostly boring and sexy at times,
    we must be very careful that our country does not become a dictatorship where citizens are not confident of enjoying their privacy. The balance will depend and the leaders must be strict and fair from the beginning even when involving family members otherwise their nepotism will leak out, transparency has and must be used for the public to cooperate, watch how them fraid fi testify when arrests are made and how many criminals go free.

  11. ang says:

    We no have the manpower nor technology fu protect that data, dealerz would be able to access it easily look what happen to that laptop with driver license info puhlease! we no even got finger printing yet. This is easily said but when there is a change in govt all this information is not consistently protected, shredded it stays there and personal data can be hacked to other countries look what happened to the passport and custom scandal, and most recently US files on wilileaks? The implementation will be the hardest part, protectors of this data are hired seasonally when another one comes along it might leave laying somewhere and if innocent people’s identities are leaked then Belizeans we MUSSED UP. I think more serious consideration need be given explored preventatives and alterntives need be put in place and a committee of both sides should oversee destruction of this data or whatever.

  12. Lisa M Shoman says:

    No rational person would oppose just for the sake of opposing. I am on record as stating that the intention of the legislation is good – it is the execution that is flawed.

    Nothing is more dangerous than the notion that laws are made only “to catch criminals”, or that “only criminals need fear the law”.

    Interception has been taking place in Belize for decades under the orders of the National Security Council, except when it was being done, without warrant , by the SIS who were under Dean Barrow’s Ministry.

    There is a need for a rational and sensible Interceptions of Communications Act in Belize, but legislation that will take away your civil liberties in a way that is abusive and unconstitutional is not the answer. Why could Belize not take the time to do this properly?

    Citizens deserve to know and understand that law can and will be administered by police officers(whose very credibility is rightly suspect at the moment) authorised by the ComPol. No legal consequences will come as a result of maladministration as long as they claim the were acting “in good faith.”

    Warrants will be issued by judges – who may well be on short term contracts – at the moment, from 6 months to 3 years.

    Once a warrant has expired, the law allows for the interception equipment ( hardware or software) to be removed up to 2 weeks later, with no accountability for what occurs during that time. No one os required to inform a judge that equipment has been removed.

    The information obtained will be shared widely among law enforcement officers, but the warrant will be kept “in a safe place” in the Supreme Court Registry.

    There is no independent oversight commission – and not even the judicial and legal services commission has oversight on issues or abuses. Such an Independent Commission is necessary under international standards and was vigorously recommended by Senator Paul Perriot, the representative of the Unions.

    The law does NOT protect your communications with your lawyer or Minister of Religion.

    No entry warrant is needed for a Post Office employee to enter your home looking for mail. NONE.

    Your computer can be cloned and yes, your webcam can be remote started to record you and your family.

    Information can be taken WITHOUT ANY WARRANT from any unsecure network or computer.

    Shooting at the messenger does not , and will not change the message. Speculating about motives will not influence the ways this law can and will be used against many law abiding citizens in Belize.

    The current Bill is not designed to combat crime as much as to be divisive and disruptive of our democracy.

    I will continue to remain available to explain how this law will operate, and its potential for abuse. I answer to the Belizean people for my tenure in the Senate, and I consider it my responsibility to do so.

  13. Initiate! says:

    Very good Ms. Shoman! Thank you.
    Now lets just get those points into the law.
    Lets correct the mechanism.
    Lets get a sound and well rounded execution of this law going.
    We can only get an almost positive democracy going if both the GOB & opposition are proactive.

  14. Edith says:

    Very well put Ms Shoman. I hope with your recommendations we can get this running..

  15. TLSubmit says:

    Hey im new here.

    Im sam, how is everyone?

    I look forwards to being a active memeber

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