NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The controversial Interception of Communication Act 2018, which was dubbed the “spy bill” in the lead up to the 2017 General Election, was enforced on February 1.
The government tabled the appointed day notice in Parliament yesterday.
The legislation provides for the interception of all communication networks, which would include public telecommunication operators and Internet providers and also provides for the use of certain devices for listening to private conversations.
A similar bill was introduced during the final months of the last Christie administration.
However, that bill was shelved after increased criticism and opposition from civil society and the Free National Movement, which labeled the legislation the “spy bill”.
At the time, FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said the bill had “more to do with blocking any opposition to this corrupt government (the PLP), than being a useful crime fighting tool” and would be “a breach of the privacy of the public at large.”
Upon coming into office, the Minnis administration introduced a similar bill, which featured many provisions identical to the bill introduced by the Christie administration.
The government however insisted that there was a stark difference between the two, and defended its decision to bring the bill forth.
According to the act, an interception must be authorized by a judge, upon ex parte application by the attorney general, at the request of an authorized officer.
Those offenses for which an order can be requested include terrorist acts, terrorism financing, genocide, drug and firearms trafficking, money laundering, acquisition or creation of weapons of mass destruction, sabotage, espionage or subversion.