We ask because the Cayman Islands police records that were “lost” in a computer hard-drive failure more than a year ago don’t seem to be anywhere near the surface of the Earth.
What makes the already-conspicuous information gap doubly peculiar is that government’s Computer Services Department thought they had successfully restored those files more than six months ago. But now police are saying, in effect, “That ain’t so.”
Lodged by a Cayman Compass reporter in February 2014, the open records request that kicked off the entire affair — including the first public disclosure that government hard drives had crashed multiple times — sought information about the police’s Joint Marine Unit patrol boats. The issue at hand, however, goes beyond any concern about watercraft maintenance.
The amount of information that government “lost” — 1.2 terabytes in all, we’ve been told — is huge. There’s no way that all of that data only pertained to Marine Unit patrol boats, which most likely comprised only the slimmest sliver of what was lost.
So another, more basic, question arises. Not only do we ask, “Where is the data?” but also, “What is the data?”
To that we’ll add, “How, exactly, was the data lost in the first place?” and “Why hasn’t it been definitively ‘found’ yet?”
We shudder when we ponder the possibility that some of the lost data might involve matters of extreme significance and sensitivity, particularly when Cayman officials are embroiled in several high-profile legal imbroglios that pivot on specific sets of government records — for example, the Freedom of Information battle for Operation Tempura documents; or the private members’ motion by former Premier McKeeva Bush, which alleges that local and U.K. officials, including current Premier Alden McLaughlin (who responded by suing Mr. Bush for defamation), engaged in a “conspiracy” to topple him from power.
What would happen if any records of that magnitude of importance were ever lost? Would government find out before it’s too late?
Would the public?