Interception of Communications (Amendment) Bill (2019) passed without amendments

The Interception of Communications [Amendment] Bill 2019 was considered by the Committee of Supply and passed in the House of Assembly on Wednesday 15 May without challenge.

The five Amendments were presented by Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes who told the National Assembly that it seeks to provide additional ‘exceptions’ than the standing Act catered for, one of which was: “If a person has reasonable grounds for believing that the person to whom or by whom the communication is transmitted, consents to the interception, or if the communication is not a private communication etc”.

The Minister said that most of these exceptions could be found in similar legislation across the region, and it is known to be impactful.

“Section 3 of the Interception of Communication Act makes it an offence to intercept a communication in the course of its transmission. Such an offence is punishable by a fine of not more than G$5M and imprisonment up to three years,” the minister pointed out.

In other jurisdictions, such laws have raised privacy concerns. However, a critical safeguard that has been implemented in many countries and is being done in Guyana, is for members of the judiciary to have the power to issue warrants to arrest.

The Interception of Communication [Amendment] Bill 2019 was first published on January 10, 2019. It was presented and read for the first time in the National Assembly on April 26, 2019.