National Security Minister Marvin Dames said the Interception of Communications Bill (ICB) is needed to provide for the legal interception of email and other forms of communication over the internet.
Addressing Parliamentarians in the House of Assembly (HOA), Dames said, without the enactment of this new bill, law enforcement personnel will not be able to utilise the latest in law enforcement techniques and equipment to match the reach, resources or sophistication of organised criminal groups.
“This will undoubtedly lead to a major regression in all of the gains made by law enforcement in recent times, thereby exposing our beautiful nation to untold risks such as economic, reputational, and damage to our social fabric,” he said.
“These are risks that we cannot afford to take if we are committed to building a nation that is respected and focused on securing a future for successive generations.”
Dames said the government has an obligation to provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to stay ahead of “those hell bent on destroying our nation”.
“We cannot and should not send the message to the criminal element that we are not prepared to follow them or match their resources to wherever they go to safeguard our nation’s security interests,” he said.
“This would be a catastrophic error, resulting in devastating consequences for our little nation.
“Are we prepared to surrender or risk it all for those with their hidden agendas? Or are we prepared and committed to protecting, the reputational and national security interests of our nation? The only way we make the latter possible is if we put systems in place to circumvent terrorist activity.”
Dames stressed that the rise of new information communications technologies in the last decade of the 20th century, have continued into the 21st century and, The Bahamas, like many countries around the world, has been plagued by cybercrimes related to new technologies.
“The activities of communications technologies is one of the biggest challenges in the 21st century,” he added.
“Its global impact is felt in every corner of the earth from mega-corporations to everyday citizens. Crimes related to communications technologies, at its bare minimum, includes damage and destruction of data, stolen money, theft of personal and financial data, embezzlement, fraud, forensic investigation, deletion of hacked data software and reputational harm.”
Minister Dames said that globally, it was estimated that cybercrimes costs approximately $600 billion annually.
He pointed out that it has become the fastest growing trans-national crime that is continuously increasing in scope, sophistication and cost.