National Security Minister Stuart Young yesterday defended the decision by the T&T Police to create a centre to increase their capacity to monitor and analyse social media activity through the use of a surveillance system.
While this is of concern to the average citizen, who may feel it will be an invasion of their privacy, there is essentially nothing wrong with that decision given that many times, information is gleaned from social media sites, which have become notorious for breaking news at a time when everybody is now a journalist and when many people reveal their entire life stories for the world to see.
In defending the decision, Young remarked quite rightly that there is a lot of intelligence on social media. Those engaged in gang activity, he said, sometimes share a lot of the activities that they are participating in and planning on social media and some even offer drugs and firearms for sale.
The hope is also that the police surveillance of social media will help them to address issues such as child pornography and human trafficking and get to those who hide behind fake profiles to commit criminal acts. The police will, according to Young, “go behind that and find out who the real perpetrators are.” He warned that those persons will “suffer the consequences” of their criminal activity.
While no one can argue with anything that will assist in the fight against crime, there is no doubt that citizens will be concerned about possible abuse in terms of invasion of privacy. One can only hope those police officers charged with the responsibility will not abuse their authority or cross the line and use the equipment for anything other than to catch the criminals.
Both the Interception of Communications Act (IOCA) and the Standard Operating Procedures makes provision for breaches and outline how the equipment can be used and John Public will hope that Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith will ensure any abuse is severely dealt with.
The thing is, most people on social media do so knowing that it is neither a private space nor a private domain.
But the country is at a time when the spate of criminality calls for drastic measures and if monitoring social media platforms will help why not? If persons are not breaking the law and not engaged in criminality, however, Minister Young assured they have nothing to be worried about.
We sincerely hope so Minister Young and that this is not just a ploy to get to people who use anonymous profiles to attack the political directorate.
If, however, this ultimately helps the police put a halt to criminal activity, then it would have achieved its goal. And something must be done to stop the flow of blood which continues to flow through the land.