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!
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