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Are residents’ phones being tapped? Is VI now a Police state?

-Residents remain suspicious as many believe their phones are bugged/tapped! Authorities tight-lipped over topic as only Governor has power to approve phone tapping, according to Telecommunications Act!
Under the Telecommunications Act of 2006 Sec. 90, Governor William B. McCleary has the power to issue orders to operators of telecommunications networks and providers of telecommunications services, at their expense, to intercept communications for law enforcement purposes. A local prominent Defense Lawyer said he does not trust the Governor with that power. Photo: VINO/File
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Alwin James claimed he was not aware of residents’ concerns over alleged tapping/bugging of their phones. Mr James noted, however, police have the power under law to 'intercept communication'. When asked if the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force has been making use of the opportunity provided by such legislation to intercept communication, Mr James said he would prefer “not to make any comment on that.” Photo: VINO/File
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Alwin James claimed he was not aware of residents’ concerns over alleged tapping/bugging of their phones. Mr James noted, however, police have the power under law to 'intercept communication'. When asked if the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force has been making use of the opportunity provided by such legislation to intercept communication, Mr James said he would prefer “not to make any comment on that.” Photo: VINO/File
Many residents of the Virgin Islands and some Members of the House of Assembly (HOA) believe that phones of residents are being tapped. Leader of the Opposition Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE said he believes his is one such phone. Other HOA members said the matter has been brought to their attention. Photo: iiiweb.net/tscm/
Many residents of the Virgin Islands and some Members of the House of Assembly (HOA) believe that phones of residents are being tapped. Leader of the Opposition Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE said he believes his is one such phone. Other HOA members said the matter has been brought to their attention. Photo: iiiweb.net/tscm/
The Rodus Building. There is no confirmation as to if the Government has the equipment to tapped phones, however, a police source claims that the equipment is located at a police out post at Road Reef. The Police Officer also alleged that there are other bugging devices used and some have even been “placed on boats”, but he provided no further details or evidence. Photo: VINO
The Rodus Building. There is no confirmation as to if the Government has the equipment to tapped phones, however, a police source claims that the equipment is located at a police out post at Road Reef. The Police Officer also alleged that there are other bugging devices used and some have even been “placed on boats”, but he provided no further details or evidence. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- With such a small community and many concluding already that there is nothing confidential in the Virgin Islands, there remain questions and concerns over police power and whether residents’ phones, both land-line and cellular, are being tapped or ‘bugged’ by the state.

Many residents in the Virgin Islands strongly believe their phones are being bugged by the police.

The law to bug/tap residents phone

Even without the passage of the Authorisation of Surveillance Devices Act, 2013, which is held up in the House of Assembly in the committee stage, the Crown has the power to intercept residents’ phone calls.

The law on the books now gives the Governor the power to intercept residents’ phone calls as the Telecommunications Act of 2006, section 90 states;

The Governor may make written requests and issue orders to operators of telecommunications networks and providers of telecommunications services requiring them, at their expense, to intercept communications for law enforcement purposes or provide any user information or otherwise in aid of his authority”.

Public not trusting Governor and Ag. Police Commissioner

A prominent local defense attorney told this news site  that in more developed democracies the police will have to convince a magistrate or a judge that there are compelling evidence for national security purposes to tap someone’s phone. However, he said, “in the BVI anything goes knowing the power of the governor and how it has been used in the past…there is much mistrust of this Governor and Ag. Police Commissioner when coming to our rights and privacy,” he said with a smile.

The Attorney said, “I have been in court on more than one occasion and saw some evidence presented by the Crown and that type of evidence could have not been obtained without the interception of telephone calls.”

The current United Kingdom appointed Governor is William B. McCleary and the Acting Police Commissioner is David Morris.

A call was made to Mr. Morris for his comments on whether residents' phones were being tapped, however, he told this news site that he was in the United Kingdom on vacation and could not give an official comment.

Ag. Deputy Commissioner of Police Alwin James when reached by this news site claimed that he is not aware of Virgin Islands’ residents being suspicious that their phones may be tapped/bugged by police authorities.

Mr. James noted, however, that "The Telecommunications Act makes provisions for the intercept of communication in the Virgin Islands." Asked if the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force has been making use of the opportunity provided by such legislation to intercept communication, Mr. James said he would prefer “not to make any comment on that.”

Legislators reaction

The Leader of the Opposition and Ninth District Representative, the Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal OBE, already declared in Parliament on May 14, 2013 his belief that his telephone is bugged, but he is “not too worried about it”. He was at the time debating a new Bill to give the Police more powers to conduct surveillance via cameras. The Bill is yet to be passed. 

The Fifth District Representative, Honourable Deloris Christopher, told Virgin Islands News Online when asked whether she believed phones are being bugged, "I don't know about that, but here is my philosophy: If you tune in to hear what I have to say, you will hear exactly what you tune in to hear....”

Another legislator Honourable Julian Fraser RA, who represents the Third District, when asked about the bugging suspicion controversy, said he is aware of such concerns as persons have expressed them to him.

Another member of the House of Assembly, who wished for his named not to be used, said “everybody knows this is going on as persons have heard many noises in  their phones especially cellular but you will never get the police to admit it else it defeats the purposes…”

The man on the street reacts

Popular radio personality from the Morning Ride Show on ZROD 103.7, Paul Gadiethz Peart said he has been hearing a lot of talk recently about people suspecting that their phones may be tapped.

"Only today at the Poker Run some women were talking about that. They were saying that they feel their phones may be open to other people listening to their conversations."

Julian Willock, the former esteemed Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works, when asked about the phone tapping matter said “when I was sent on leave in 2010 many persons including police officers and senior civil servants warned me not to use my government issued cellular as it was tapped, however, I continued to use it, because I was confident that no one with any leaks called me.” 

Mr Willock told this news site that it got interesting when the news site he founded was breaking a lot of news from Cabinet and from the Public Service Commission. “I had many calls, including from Police Officers, to be careful with my phone.” However, Mr. Willock said because he never wrote a story for the news site, he continued using his government issued cellular device.

Bishop John I. Cline when asked whether he had suspicions about his phone being tapped, said "I would hope not….but I would hope that it's not something that's happening to anybody." When asked if he would support phone tapping, he said "No of course not! People's privacy needs to be respected and guarded by law, absolutely," the Religious Leader told this news site.

Greg A. Callwood, a Jost van Dyke (JVD) businessman and President of the newly formed JVDAction Committee, said "I hear a lot of people talking, saying their phones are tapped." However, he didn’t care whether his phone was tapped, but believes that “it's an invasion on people's privacy.""I hear a lot of police officers tell me for sure that all the phones are tapped….” 

Other persons called randomly either were not aware or felt strongly that their phones were tapped.

Two persons, both chose to remain anonymous, said they had reasons to believe their phones may be tapped. "Sometimes when I make a call I can clearly hear noises like someone on the other end even before the person I trying to reach answers," one person said.

There are also unconfirmed reports that some police officers themselves have been the target of alleged phone tapping. One police officer told this news site that “we ourselves are victims of this.”

There is no confirmation if Government has the equipment to tap phones; however, the same police officer claimed that the equipment is located at a police outpost at Road Reef. The police source also alleged that there are other bugging devices used and some have even been “placed on boats”, but he provided no further details or evidence.

Both the Governor and Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, who sits on the National Security Council, could not be reached for comments as of post time.

The VI Constitution Order of 2007 includes, for the first time, a chapter setting out the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual and provisions for their enforcement.

67 Responses to “Are residents’ phones being tapped? Is VI now a Police state?”

  • back ground (28/05/2013, 08:51) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    yes, up to yesterday i herd you all in the back ground of 1 of my friends phone.
    you all are up to no good, with the worlds of saying your doing good.

    like really?
    • in the news (28/05/2013, 09:20) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
      hope this man gets permission from a High Court judge
    • poor we (28/05/2013, 10:42) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      I hear talk on the streets about cyber crime...we use the Internet while in office, but we must be careful, people can be defamed....
      • Oh yea. (28/05/2013, 14:38) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        There is a big one coming that will rock the island. Everyone that like to post and share. Saw paper work.
        • Fat Head (28/05/2013, 18:06) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
          I am in total agreement with the defense lawyer, it is a shame, disgrace and unbecoming for persons in authority with so many years of experience to come here and show disregard for our rights and do such utterances
      • COME AGAIN (28/05/2013, 15:03) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        soory I miss this one "poor we"
  • BREAKING NEWS (28/05/2013, 08:57) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    what ah ting to tell the king!!
    • yellow (28/05/2013, 09:09) Like (4) Dislike (16) Reply
      more alleged wrongdoing
      • big bird (28/05/2013, 18:25) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
        I see why our children take after the leaders attitude and have no regards for authority.
      • live and lean (29/05/2013, 17:57) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        The police force simply by the nature of their work , have many enemies out there , with personal vendettas .

    • Yes (28/05/2013, 10:46) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Noting the scandal that came about regarding editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, my people we must define ways to map out a social infrastructure to deal with the knowledge we derive from what the information technology offers.

  • Janet Williams (28/05/2013, 09:02) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    yup, it sounds like my phone is buged

    • bay yute (28/05/2013, 10:01) Like (20) Dislike (0) Reply
      We have to get Protection from the UN and other Human Rights organizations.
  • zoe (28/05/2013, 09:04) Like (2) Dislike (96) Reply
    It's a pity that people do not trust this governor he seems like a nice man!
  • Bvi man (28/05/2013, 09:06) Like (5) Dislike (16) Reply
    We need to take back with much URGENCY our country from thoes two men!!!
    • egland (28/05/2013, 10:04) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
      Our country, since when? what world you living in buddy, its not our country, it belongs to the monarchy, get it embeded in your brain, you only get permission to leave here, you have to apply for a passport and then the monarchy would review your application and then issue a passport if they want to, so you think you own d passport to, u better wake up and smell d coffee.
  • Hmm (28/05/2013, 09:06) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Wah trouble is this?!?
  • 911 (28/05/2013, 09:15) Like (9) Dislike (2) Reply
    I thought it was America or some European spy agency doing it, I didnt think it was local. They got all that fancy technology and still cant hardly solve no crimes. Poor VI.
  • links (28/05/2013, 09:17) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    So a police really give out such confidential information and VINO prints it? WOW
    • Blinking Shame (28/05/2013, 09:59) Like (11) Dislike (4) Reply
      this wasn't a police who gave it out it was a criminal in uniform, when you work for an organisation and there are things whether true or not which are kept from you you should offer no comment but you are speculating where this may be kept shame on you crooked police
    • snitch (28/05/2013, 10:17) Like (2) Dislike (14) Reply
      you worst than the police so shut your a##
    • talk girl talk (28/05/2013, 10:30) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      vino got too much inside sources..and evey body talk talk talk
  • like whoa (28/05/2013, 09:37) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Just now the Queen coming for her country this governor making sure of that. Once he report that the NDP VIP CCP and any other party out there cant take care of her country she will take over watch and see
  • born here (28/05/2013, 09:44) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    They have our phones tap yes last week i was on my phone and a lady intercept my call while i was talking to someone else and about a year and a half ago a good friend of mines told me that the police have 500 people phones tap through out the BVI i know its more now so people watch wat u say on your phones
  • my two cents (28/05/2013, 09:44) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    The Government will flatly denied the claims anyway so why call them?.

  • stoops (28/05/2013, 09:55) Like (4) Dislike (25) Reply
    paranoid foolishness! honestly, you aren't important enough for somebody to have to listen to your drivel, gossip and chit-chat. Even if you were, this is the digital age! do you REALLY think you would "hear strange noises" on a digital phone? If the device was tapped, you wouldn't know about it and it is childish to think that any government would use equipment that gives itself away. some people are so dumb.
  • Never (28/05/2013, 10:08) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    Some of you talk so blinking much when you all about to conduct your illegal transactions and say that you have told no one so obviously when you all get caught you say its the phones being bugged come on give me a break, all it is you talk to your girlfriends who talk to their other boyfriends and they rat you all out..... Now VINO please again be concious of what you print
  • get up (28/05/2013, 10:09) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply

    Gov.... we know that you bugging our phones but you heard enough now from the NDP so why you ain't looking into all their wrong doings. Is it that you only look into wrong once it is not the NDP? It seems so to the average man.

  • Tapped b 4 (28/05/2013, 10:43) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    I know my phone was definitely tapped before....this has been going on for a # of years....many drug busts are done that way too.....
  • Comms (28/05/2013, 10:55) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply

    Who needs to tap phones when the a--holes are all over facebook and instagram with their business? hahaahhahhahahahah!!! Phones? Try computers, which is what the new phones are anyway, they're palm held computers not 'phones' in its initial term. All those whatsapps and fb messages are all over servers, all over the world. Anybody with the right knowledge can intercept your messages. The RVIPF don't need to tap your 'phone' to know your business. Stop chat so damn much and u will be fine, simple. Everybody life story on some social media then they shocked when business on the street. down to their breakfast they taking a picture of, movie ticket, plane ticket, everywhere they go is a pic. Tap phone? haha..that's so 90's

  • Eagle Eye (28/05/2013, 11:09) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    my phone is definitly bugged and i'm clean
    • You serious (28/05/2013, 16:03) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Who would want to listen to mundane life. Blah blah girlfriend, blah blah shopping, blah blah gossip. I don't think so.
  • Manabouttown (28/05/2013, 11:17) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    HERE AGAIN IS A CEAR VIOLATION OF ONE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT'S. I HAVE REASONS TO BELIEVE THAT THIS GROSS VIOLATION HAS BEEN EXECUTE TO MY FAMILY AND I. THERE WILL BE A LEGAL BATTLE IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT, THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE.
    WIRE TAPPING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM ITS ILLEGAL. YOU KNOW WHO I AM, YOU ARE WATCHING ME, BUT WHO ARE WATCHING YOU. IS THIS DEMOCRACY?
  • passive justice (28/05/2013, 11:30) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    @ comms I consent. People put them news out on them social sites. Nothing is sacred anymore. Ralph said pardon me, hon. Ralph said them listening to him. Them Tap Phones yes.
  • Observer (28/05/2013, 11:52) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply

    Frank Savage was the best governor I've seen. This one here look like he is a cr**k with power.

    • bets (28/05/2013, 12:44) Like (1) Dislike (311) Reply
      If you people would give the Governor a chance, you would see that he's a real nice guy and cares about the people and the economy. Everyone is just reacting on gossip, surely we are strong, we do not need to be misguided, we can judge for ourselves. So my question to you is when, where and how did this Governor offend you, facts now, not heresay. Have you proven all of the accusations and allegations about him?? If the answer is No, then you should give the man a chance, two wrongs don't make a right, think about it my people, and lets move on to making the BVI a better place to live and stop this nonsense, "aint nobody got time for this"
    • @observer (28/05/2013, 13:01) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      You cant tell the govenor is in bed with the ndp? They all buddy buddy with him, he does all their dirty biddings. When the celberity girl who is a faulker decendant was here you aint see he was part of the tie and cuff links gang. That govenor is constantly involed in local matters that he should'nt be involved in. UK oversite is a fraud they only crack down on ambitious civil servants and business people and turn a blind eye to many other things that virgin islanders cry out about. When does his term end? Thats what id like to know.
    • @ Observer (28/05/2013, 13:43) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
      Please the one sent to lock up all our local boys?
  • ausar (28/05/2013, 12:14) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    WOW!

    Aw tell ya. Modern technology has brought us to this point and it's going to have to be the way of the mafia to lead us out of it....
    ...Meetings as it used to be on row boats to an island somewhere yonder...YUP, yup.

    I've always said it now technology has now proven that it's the only way to go for effective and truly private communication, bar none!
  • barrysay (28/05/2013, 12:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply

    People, you talking about the Government tapping your phone, surely you know that L**E listens in randomly on telephone conversations, its part of their security procedures. So question is, who else is listening in?

    • Not new (31/05/2013, 20:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Cct people does that too. Lots of people change from cct for that same reason. They wilfl target you if they have a problem with and isten to you conversation.
  • JACK BE STILL (28/05/2013, 13:44) Like (2) Dislike (75) Reply
    Well if you got nothing to hide why worry???
  • one eye (28/05/2013, 14:49) Like (2) Dislike (7) Reply
    I hope the elected reps block that new camera bill because they will even watch when we going to the toilet....
  • VIlander (28/05/2013, 15:10) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I researched this some time ago, & unless something has changed, There is no law to protect privacy. It's an assumption.
  • police officer west end (28/05/2013, 15:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    i could have told you all this from three years ago
  • Watch with four eyes (28/05/2013, 15:55) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ralph warned ago to keep an eye on this governor YU think he was jokin......now all you see why!!!!
  • Police spokesman (28/05/2013, 16:00) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yes, and you probably did.
  • S.B. (28/05/2013, 16:36) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    I know mines is tapped that's why I get a new # every year plus they could only get that freak talk recorded HA!
  • S.B. (28/05/2013, 16:39) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    In todays world if you still talk your real game on the phone then you deserve to get knock! Write notes and they get burned or swallowed after that. they will have to pump man stomach if the really need them logistics.
  • ReX FeRal (28/05/2013, 16:40) Like (1) Dislike (147) Reply
    Better look into "police Power" and the Virgin Islands People.
  • peripheral intelligence (28/05/2013, 19:21) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    People who eavesdrop on other people thru electronic means or looking thru their bathroom windows
    are perverts. If BVI government (not the mention the British and American government entities) are
    listening in to communications in the BVI from/to locals or outsiders - that is plain disgusting and perverted!
    If a girl or boy is asked out on a date, it's none of the gov's business!!! Sounds like something a British
    comedian would do on stage for laughs.
  • bvi (28/05/2013, 20:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    They could tap mine til kingdom come. The only suspicious things they will hear from my conversations might make them wet up themselves. lmao.
  • Sky (28/05/2013, 23:29) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    What do we want? Human rights and justice
    • yo yo (29/05/2013, 23:57) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      This reduce the opportunities for young graduates with new skills to innovate and show the world there capacity to become real game changers. sad state in we country
  • HELP HELP HELP (28/05/2013, 23:53) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    DON'T HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE GAME.
  • wise up (29/05/2013, 05:09) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    while we sitting back wondering who is a BV Islander; those two white snakes taking over our country; when thsy finish fU@K!$G with us as a people those 2-white snakes will simply board a plane and head back to the UK...we can keep fighting with each other and continue to let these white rule us
  • Truth (29/05/2013, 18:43) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ladies and gentlement.... The police state will come whether you like it or not....for most of your sakes i hope you familiarize yourselves and brush up on counter-intelligence techniques just for the sake of ur privacy.
  • Privacy (31/05/2013, 03:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I think we the people have every right to or own personal cell phone privacy in which we are paying or money to use what if you on the phone with your significant other you can't tell her/him dirty things cause, other people just right there all in yo business hmm better in person than on phone smh just saying we as people deserve or privacy!
  • !!!!!!!! (31/05/2013, 08:51) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    How safe of a society do you want to live in?
  • Concerned (02/06/2013, 02:10) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    ...I have watched civil servants get trampled on since the last elections because they refused to stand up for their rights and usually give in to the simplest pressure...and they cannot depend on this governor for justise
  • tell the truth (02/06/2013, 11:59) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    All stones must be overturned. Unless we are going to allow the secret society to begin rule in police and judicial matters....


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