DARRYN BOODAN-editorial-pic

Dear comrades, regular columnist and capitalist pig, Darryn Boodan, is off today. He is suffering from a bout of the White Oak virus.

I am Supreme Leader of the People’s Republic of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. Please permit me—and by that I mean let me do it or else—write this open letter to your heroic government on their recent proposal of the Interception of Communication Bill 2020. I like to think of North Korea as an example of a perfect society that the whole world can follow. And I’m pleased that T&T has developed a taste for North Korean traditions such as ginseng, noodles and now, mass state surveillance.

Comrades, the Interception of Communication Bill 2020 is an inspiring document. It’s right up there with other literary classics like 1984, The Hunger Games and my personal favourite, How to Build a Concentration Camp in Ten Easy Steps.

The Interception and Communication Bill 2020 seeks to allow state agencies to legally spy on prisoners communicating with their legal counsel and anyone outside the prison. Oh, but it doesn’t stop there comrades. The bill also seeks to expand the powers of interception beyond criminal proceedings to include civil and tribunal matters. Under the current law intercepted information cannot be used as evidence unless a warrant is first obtained. But under the new proposals, persons may be charged using intercepted communication without the need for a warrant. And the time frame for these interceptions will also be removed. Ah comrades, you can now be rest assured knowing the state is doing everything it can to keep you safe. Including potentially listening and recording everything you do.

The real coup de gras, however, is the proposal that says if the intercepted communication in court is deemed sensitive to national security, the state may remove charged persons and their attorneys and replace them with a special advocate to act on said charged person’s behalf. These special advocates cannot disclose the information being used against their clients to anyone, even said clients. As a wise old North Korean saying goes, “there is no greater proof of a person’s guilt than them demanding to see the evidence against them”.

Comrades, I know there are some criminals who have a problem with these new proposals. Scumbags like investigative journalists, who worry it may be used to punish them and their sources who expose state abuses. Or, human rights advocates who worry that these laws effectively criminalise all citizens, giving the state the ability to jail anyone they want. And of course snarky newspaper columnists who are worried that all the midget goat porn on their phones will now be leaked.

But comrades trust me when I say that these laws will not be abused (wink wink). In fact, you should take pride that your country possesses brilliant minds like Lord of the Land Faris Al-Rawi and Supreme Personal Assistant Stuart Young. I was surprised to learn that both these legal luminaries did not attend the highly prestigious University of Pyongyang Law School. If they did I have no doubt they would have each graduated with the highest title of First Class Pyong.

You need only look at North Korea to see how well mass state surveillance keeps everyone safe. Pyongyang has a murder rate of zero, providing of course you don’t count murders done by the state police. It has no robberies. People can leave their doors open at night with the restful assurance the Supreme Commander is watching their every move.

If you need further proof of the crime-fighting ability of mass surveillance, you need only look at T&T’s Interception of Communication Act Annual Report 2016. Why 2016 you ask? Well, that’s because that was the last time there was an Interception of Communication Act annual report. The Minister of National Security can’t be expected to prepare reports all the time. He’s busy doing other things, like fighting with people on Facebook.

Anyway, as the report states, in 2016 the Trinidad and Tobago Police Force via the Strategic Services Agency acquired over 100,000 “speech” intercepts. This resulted in a grand total of five arrests. The Strategic Services Agency themselves go even better, logging over 300,000 interceptions which led to zero arrests. And no warrants were applied for to get them.

According to the maths teachers at the University of Pyongyang, those are excellent figures. If you’re not familiar with North Korean maths don’t worry, I’m sure when the Government is done passing this bill, getting everyone acquainted with more North Korean cultural activities will be next on the agenda.

—Darryn Boodan is

a freelance writer

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