T&T Ministers mum on cellphone tapping

(Trinidad Guardian) Both Minister of Communication Dr Suruj Rambachan and Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh on Monday declined to comment on recent reports that the National Security Council, headed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, had met with Digicel to get assistance in tapping cellphones.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s meeting with  Digicel’s Chief Executive Officer Niall Dorian on July 14, Gopeesingh said: “I can say absolutely nothing about that. I cannot comment on that.” Rambachan also said it was a matter of national security and as such he had no information on the meeting. He added: “I don’t know about that. It is outside my purview.”

On Sunday, the Guardian reported exclusively that Government was attempting to implement legal intercept capabilities on the Digicel network. The meeting was attended by National Security Minister John Sandy, Public Utilities Minister Emmanuel George, director of the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) Colonel Albert Griffith and Digicel’s CEO Dorian. Legally intercepting a mobile network allows an intelligence agency to listen to calls for pre-assigned numbers. In a letter to Government, Dorian said Digicel was contractually obligated to protect the privacy of customers and could only deviate from duties where clearly required to do so by legislation. He said Digicel had offered full support but this co-operation had not been reciprocated by the SSA. Last week, president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, Ancel Roget, accused Government of tapping the phones of trade unionists who were gearing up for a national day of strike. Roget said, however, that the labour comrades could communicate effectively among themselves in a manner which the Government could not understand.

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