Former Telecoms Minister Dr Edmund Mansoor has expressed concern over a section of the proposed new Telecoms Bill, accusing the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party Administration of invading people’s privacy.
“The section on National Interest and Security is nothing but spying on the people of Antigua & Barbuda and has no place whatsoever in 2016, in a new Telecommunications Act, when we’re trying to improve the regulatory environment.
“This notion when government will come in Clauses 122, 124, 127, 138, invade people’s privacy, appoint inspectors, and the minister can unilaterally send inspectors to huff people’s equipment. I think that’s setting a dangerous precedent and there’s absolutely no basis for that,” he said.
Dr Mansoor was speaking at a public consultation at the Multi-Purpose Cultural Centre on Monday night, to discuss the Bill, which was hosted by the current Telecoms Minister, Melford Nicholas.
In response to Mansoor’s accusation, Nicholas fired back.
“The government of Antigua & Barbuda, under Baldwin Spencer, took to parliament a particular Act in 2005, and one of the provisions of this Act is that it allowed agencies of the government, including the ONDCP, to enter the premises of individuals to install listening devices, where it was satisfied that in the interests of the state and the matter of terrorism, it felt it was necessary to do that.
“When the Bill was characterized as leaning towards spying, I have an issue with that. If we’re saying the way it’s stated, there needs to [be] further clarity, then I believe this is a conversation that can be had. It certainly has nothing to do with spying on people. It has nothing to do with the authority vested in the commission to force the accountability of persons from time to time,” he said.
Dr Mansoor said this section of the Bill is repressive and oppressive, and made it clear the United Progressive Party(UPP) would not support the Bill as is.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)