Online poll: Wiretap only with court approval


The poll consensus is that the courts must decide whose telephones and emails can be tapped, but the caveat, simply stated, is “if you can trust them.” 

This week’s poll drew 523 votes and 36 comments, most in favor of allowing wiretaps, presupposing court approval. Several commentators wondered, however, if the courts were competent or secure – or either, and most remarks were freighted with caution.  

Of the total votes, most, 223, or 42.7 percent, thought “the courts must decide” if wiretapping is acceptable. 

“Equally important, is to ensure adequate and independent checks and oversight to ensure that it’s [not] taking place outside of judicial approval,” said one voter, echoing a second call for “some review with clear rules. 

“A ‘committee’ with ‘guidelines’ isn’t as trustworthy as a court. ‘Searching’ my telephone conversation is no different than searching my house … and we’ve seen how well that’s working with lay-reviews by the J[ustices of the] P[eace]s.” 

Others asked that police demonstrate wrongdoing when seeking a wiretap, and coupled the concern for evidence with the concern for privacy: “If there is evidence enough to warrant it, yes. If not, no. Citizens must have some sense of privacy.” 

One respondent was straightforwardly cynical: “The government and its loose-lipped employees cannot be trusted with confidential information,” echoing the essential question of another: “But can you trust them?” 

Finishing in second place was a similar sense that wiretaps were “sometimes” acceptable, but that anyone involved must proceed “on a case-by-case basis.” 

Attracting 109 votes, or 20.8 per cent of the total, and 16 comments, the category engendered a list of limited conditions under which wiretaps could be approved: national security, criminal suspects and drug-related crime, and only with a court-mandated search warrant. 

One commentator, worried that local precautions might be insufficient, said anyone wanting a wiretap “must apply back to the UK courts/Home Office for permission.” 

Finishing in third place, only nine votes behind “sometimes,” was “never,” with 100 votes, or 19.1 percent of the total, and eight comments. 

“It is not in the contract agreement that I signed with my telecom provider that the government/law enforcement has permission to help themselves to my conversation/text records. If it becomes allowed I’m going off the grid; the thought sickens me,” wrote one voter. 

“The Cayman Islands have never had a problem that could be solved by wiretapping, nor will it ever,” said another. “This is a grievous violation of our privacy and civil rights and brings us no further security. The issue is simply a red herring to mask the incompetencies of an ineffective and inefficient police force.” 

Speaking of incompetent, a third added, “the level of professionalism is not evident in the people that are proposing to do this. Their track record of incompetence is there for all to see.” 

The fear is that, even with the best intentions, too little scrutiny will be applied. 

“We all know it will be abused,” a respondent said, citing a list of government failures: “Until they get some other laws like human rights [and] copyright, why do they think it’s okay to look at our personal conversations?” 

One voter rejected the entire proposal: “It’s none of the government’s business what I talk and/or write about. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are no secrets in Cayman now. Can you just imagine? The Keystone Boys in Blue will be ecstatic.” 

In fourth place, registering 81 votes and 15.5 percent of the total, was the thought that “if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear.”  

None of the voters in that category left an explanation. 

Finally, in last place was the “other” category, drawing only 10 votes and 1.9 percent of the total.  

“I believe police have been tapping phones for years,” said one voter. “It’s probably coming to light due to human rights. Making it known and trying to pass a law is just covering their {rear] ends. I do not agree with it. For us, who are not involved with criminal activity and are hard-working individuals, it’s an invasion of privacy.” 


Next week’s poll question: 

  • What do you like most about Pirates Week? 
  • Landing party and float parade  
  • Cardboard boat races 
  • George Town street dance 
  • District heritage days 
  • Other (please explain)