LIME cuts top Police Wiretap Executive: Donald Austin

If these walls (or Mr. Austin) could talk…

The man who knows more than anyone else about police and other wiretapping of phones, emails and text messages at Cable & Wireless Caribbean has been gently sacked with a large severance and a “consulting” contract designed to keep him loyal and silent.

Donald Austin, Executive Vice President for Legal and Regulatory Matters,  and a C&W employee for over two decades, probably knows more about the interception of private communications in Barbados than any other person.

Barbados Police can legally wiretap without a court order or supervision

Barbados has no laws governing wiretapping by the police. Our Barbados police can legally wiretap your phone or look at your email and internet data for just about any reason they choose – without a warrant, without any judicial oversight and without ever informing you that they have listened to or read everything.

When our police needed technical assistance from Cable & Wireless / LIME, Mr. Austin was the go-to-guy with the authority to dedicate C&W resources to the police.

Wiretapping is big in the news right now in jolly old England because a newspaper illegally recorded conversations of public figures for years. Trinidad is in the midst of a wiretap scandal too. Here in Barbados, there was a fuss a while ago when Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin was accused of illegally wiretapping the phones of one of his senior officers.

Now, we’re not lawyers but we think that the man making the charge against Commission Dottin, Inspector Anderson Bowen, doesn’t have a prayer of making it stick. There is no doubt that the wiretaps of Bowen’s phone calls were made – but under Barbados law, the Commissioner can tap any phone and he doesn’t have to give a reason to anyone. There is no accountability for Commissioner Dottin except to himself.

In Barbados, there is no legislated or actual civilian or court oversight of police wiretapping and that’s a fact.

Who among us could handle that kind of power without rules?

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? If YOU had the power to tap any phone or email or internet in Barbados and it was legal and no chance of anyone knowing, could you handle that power and authority knowing that you could do anything? I heard once that laws are there to keep honest people honest. The crooks don’t care anyway. Without laws, anything goes.

Barbados should have some laws, accountability and civilian and judicial oversight of police wiretaps… but, hey… we can’t even pass a recycling water bottles law so don’t hold your breath!

Yup, former C&W executive Donald Austin probably knows a whole lot about the who, when and what of phone tapping and email reading in Barbados… but don’t expect him to write a book about it. Still, I’d love to ply him with some Mount Gay dark and get him talking at the beach one night – if only to hear the stories.

Hey, Mr. Austin, come on down to Oistins on Friday! We’ll have some rum an you can tell de stories. We promise we won’t say a ting. Honest!

Further Reading

Nation photo and story: Lime cuts top execs


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Ethics, Human Rights, Police

19 responses to “LIME cuts top Police Wiretap Executive: Donald Austin

  1. WikedLeaks

    GOOD JOB !

  2. Miss Observer

    It is time that Managers in Barbados realise that they are employees too. Some of them do some unscrupulous and unjust things to their juniors not realising that their day will come. In Donald’s case, being in charge of the massive layoffs and restructuring within LIME. If one look and analyse how corporate Barbados really functions it is cause for concern. They are known to terminate you suddenly when you are over fifty (50), when all the dirty work is done and most of all when sickness and troubles are most likely to step in. This would certainly be the end of Donald being the celebrity who was fortunate to rub sholders with the who is who of Barbados. Take the likes of Allison that was at CBC, Roxanne Gibbs the Nation and Leroy Parris Clico just to name a few. One can ask the question ‘Are we just a job?’ when the job is gone so are we. Thank God there is a God and that he is not one of us.

  3. what will they think of next

    Cable & Wireless brought him in when they needed a hatchet man to do some dirty work.
    He carried out his massacre of the staff ranks with great gusto. Now that the blood letting is almost over the company has no need of this black son of a bitch.
    So, “see you Donald, if we more black people fired , we will give a call”.

  4. Veda O. Phillips

    I can attested to the tapping because if was a victim of the same operation.
    Information was related to me May, 2010 that my phone calls to both the home, cell were wired along with my email.
    Information (personal) I discussed with a Senior Police Officer were repeated exactly how they were conversed. Even a conversation from an airplane on arrival at the airport.
    Prior, I knew there was a tapping but could not nail it. I am happy my prayers has been answered.
    As the old people say, “Murder don’t hide. And nothing is forever but salvation.”

  5. signatory?

    If Barbados has signed this Treaty, I wonder what rights Mr Austin may have violated?

  6. Pluto

    my internet still slow…..Donald or Mickey could get fired

  7. Lady Anon

    He has been “fired” but he still has a job with the same corporation. Unlike many of those whose pink slip carried his approval.

  8. Silence is golden

    The politics of inclusion ( seclusion ) or is he providing services after termination?

  9. Sayed

    hmm interesting, how you just write anything on your blog and people will believe it. Forgetting the age old adage of don’t believe everything you read, far less what you see and what you hear.

    In essence do not believe anything. You want to sew seeds of mistrust and more, what proof do you have he was the go to guy? Do you have him recorded doing it? Are there people who have given written or verbal statements that he did it? Did he confess? Was he seen actually doing it? Did Lime said he does it?

  10. One who knows

    Any communications company is careful to ensure wiretap operations are legal within the laws of the jurisdictions where they take place. The VP for Legal and Regulatory Affairs is normally the authority and that is the way it is at C&W. Except in limited circumstances, the police do not have the technical capabilities or access to the customer and line data to operate independently of the carriers. Wiretap operations are highly compartmentalized (for obvious reasons) into authorizations and technical assistance. Mr. Austin was #1 i/c authorizations.

  11. Sayed

    Ok and did he do anything wrong?

  12. Johnny Postle

    They ain’t a boy who can convince that he did not dabble in some nasty doo doo. All these big boys got so me serious dirty linen in their closets.

  13. here me now

    for all the ppl rejoicing, the man severance package maybe bigger than all of our annual salaries put together. plus he gine get pay hansomely as a CONsultant.

  14. Question

    Who is likely to fill Mr. Austin’s shoes? Is it Alex McDonald? I hope to God not, for McDonald is likely to make Austin look like a choir boy. Mr. McDonald has repeatedly demonstrated that he is only too eager and willing to do the bidding of others. He with his side kick Wilfred Abraham in tow got rid of over 200 Bajans in 2009. I have been reliably informed that LIME is about to half the number of line technicians to 32.

  15. JCP

    Worrying about wire-tapping is useless. It is well known that many countries hire security firms outside their country to get around the law. Essentially Britain might hire a safety firm in the US to monitor their phone network and the United States government may hire British security firms to do the same. Therefore U.S. law wont pertain to any hypothetical British-based firm and vis versa.

    There are other wire tapping techniques like listening in on mic on cell phones even when they are switched off. The FBI is said to call that a “roving bug”.

  16. Duppy Conqueror

    Cable and Wireless (see Richard Aldrich’s book) has had the closest relationship with GXHQ (the British signals intelligence establishment) for decades. GCHQ and the the American NSA have been allied by treaty since the 1940s (see the June 24, 2010 news story which finally confirmed what people had known for a long time), and with Canada, Australia etc. Anything you do on the telephone or internet networks in Barbados is “owned” by the British and Americans. They can tap individuals, but what they do which is much more important is to tap the whole network. They search for keywords, voice prints, as well as tracking networks of communications, and can archive the traffic in whole or part. If you have something you want confidential don’t do anything electronic: do a face to face, or a note typed on a non-networked computer, or an old fashioned typewriter., taken by a courier. Back in the 1950s, when Barbadian lefties who were being watched by special branch wanted to talk, they would go in the sea… it still works well.

  17. DO THE DO

    ”Cable & Wireless brought him in when they needed a hatchet man ”

    Wait, somebody who understands how big corps does wuk?

  18. Shawn Taylor

    Good!!! Least we forget, when Trevor Clarke retired as Executive Vice President of C&W Barbados and the Winward Islands, the white boys in London did not want to appoint Donald.
    It was our unions who kicked up and INSISTED that he be appointed. When he finally got the job he turn around and mek the unions shite. Fire people left, right and centre.
    He shut down companies too competitors and even companies that worked for C&W. I wonder how he feel now..

  19. understand the situation

    soo what uall dont understand is that when some1 as high as donald austin is told to do things like fire hundreds of ppl from his seniors its either he say yes i will do it or he joins the number of ppl that gets fired. in anycase if that was yourself n u had a job n that job paid for your life, family and everything you would do as you are told and fire the people, no matter how sorryu felt 4 them either u do it n not get fired r u dont do it n the get some1 else 2 fire the same people along with you. If some of u put urself in SIR austins shoes (and i call him sir austin because i believe that is the title he should have, as i have the utmost respect for this man) u would understand that he did what he had to do. what Sir donald austin has done for this country is more than any of u probably know about, because he has traveled far and wide representing the company and country all over the world bringing in revenue in many areas that most do not realize (LIME is a major sponsor of crop over for example), so to say you are angry at him for firing people “dah fuh lick ya” etc etc etc is you talking without thinking, you should b angry with the company LIME and english men the work above sir austin that are the ones that care nothing about the people of barbados. if any of you actually get the privilege to talk to him in person u would know he is a down to earth person, very caring and grounded with love for barbados and its people.

    educated bajan X