You are here
Reporter’s phone records leaked to CDA
A top Telecommunications Services of T&T (TSTT) official has been fingered in a ploy that has led to confidential telephone records of a T&T Guardian reporter being leaked to the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) in a bid to trace the source of information being published.
Sunday Guardian learned the telephone records were requested in a surreptitious manner following the publication of a September 9 article. CDA board members had objected to a decision to grant an extension to continue contracting out legal services. However, in an unprecedented move, the decision was overturned by line minister Bhoe Tewarie.
The shocking development comes almost two years after Parliament enacted the Interception of Communications Act 2010 following revelations of illegal spying on citizens by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. The act states telephone records can be obtained on directives issued from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Commissioner of Police, Chief of Defence Staff and the head of the Strategic Services Agencies to assist with investigations.
And in responding to a text message as to whether he instructed police officers to obtain telephone records belonging to the reporter, DPP Roger Gaspard stated, “I gave no such directives.” According to the T&T Constitution, the move is also an infringement on the rights of a citizen.
Section 4 (C) of the Constitution states: “It is hereby recognised and declared that in T&T there have existed and shall continue to exist, without discrimination by race, origin, colour, religion or sex, the following fundamental human rights and freedom namely—the right of the individual to respect for his private and family life.”
Telephone records used to reveal CDA leak
Several board members told Sunday Guardian the telephone records are being used to trace all incoming and outgoing calls from the reporter’s telephone to officials at CDA. Three employees of CDA contacted T&T Guardian last week complaining of being interrogated.
“They are looking to find the origin of the source of information. Even telephone records of CDA employees are being pulled. Instead of fixing the problems at CDA, workers are being victimised,” the terrified employee disclosed. A senior official at TSTT who spoke to Sunday Guardian under the condition of anonymity said while there was a procedure to obtain telephone records the system can be accessed from customer service to the managerial level.
“We have a gag order on telephone records since the act became law, but our system allows employees in the department that manages mobile phones to view records in various departments. We have a view-only and a print and view system. If an issue is raised then an employee would be called upon to explain the reason for accessing the customer's account,” the official revealed.
Questioned as to whether telephone records can be obtained even though the mobile phone may not be on the name of the individual using the telephone, the official said. “A person’s name may help but it is not necessary. Once the telephone number is given the system allows for all records to be shown pertaining to the customer. We are mandated to follow the law and trust that employees would not violate it. A customer could request the records but must produce identification.”
Commenting on the matter yesterday, head of public relations and external affairs Camille Salandy said once the matter was reported to TSTT it would be investigated. In the case of an investigation, Salandy said, telephone records relating to customers receiving threatening or nuisance telephone calls are handed over to the police and not the customer.
Seetahal: Court must grant order
Giving a legal perspective on the matter, former president of the law association Dana Seetahal, SC, said a court can make an order requiring various bodies to produce documents that could be of assistance. “The records could be ascertained if the telephone records are necessary for your defence in a civil or criminal matter or necessary to produce evidence for the prosecution or plaintiff,” Seetahal said.
He said telephone records of a customer cannot be obtained by citizens unless the court grants an order.
When contacted yesterday for a comment on the matter CDA chairman Danny Solomon said he was unable to speak. However, communication specialist Peter Campbell said the CDA had no information on the matter. He did not comment on why employees were being interrogated and being accused of leaking information to the Sunday Guardian. The matter is expected to be reported to the police later this week.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.