Police seek power to access phone data

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is seeking power to compel suspects to give access to their electronic devices without a court order.

The provision is being proposed under anti-gang legislation, which is being reviewed by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.

However, legislators have resisted the proposal, pointing to provisions which already exist in the Cybercrimes Act and other legislation.

They have also noted that arrangements can be made to address an urgent need
for access to such devices, which the other pieces of legislation may not provide for.

The proposal is one of several made in the submission made by the JCF to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament, which is now reviewing the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act, 2014.

In its submission to the committee, the police argue that the primary methods of communication used by members of a criminal organisation is electronic devices such as cellular phones.

“These devices are therefore rife with potential evidence that can be critical to an investigation under the Act. As it is now, when a cellular phone is seized and it is locked with a password, there is no obligation on the person from whom it was seized to provide the password to the police,” the JCF stated.

Alphea Saunders

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