A feeling of fear covered me as I read a recent report of a recording of a private conversation allegedly between Justice Gillian Lucky and another person. I was further panicked because the Trinidad Express newspaper got hold of the tape, transcribed it and used it as a news story.
Where was the moment of pause to ask the question: is this the right thing to do? Is this the only way this story could be covered? Is it news at any cost? I know the answer will be that it was already out on social media, but does that make it right?
Shouldn’t there be some institution monitoring such releases or are we now in a free-for-all in which your conversations can be recorded without your knowledge or consent and used as someone else deems necessary? If you can tape the conversation of the judge and use it in this way, what will you do to an ordinary citizen?
Something is wrong with this scenario and it makes me feel that yet another of my freedoms is being violated. What will be next?
Facebook and other social media can operate according to the law of the jungle, but the state needs to play a role in protecting the rights of citizens. A huge deterrent to deviant behaviour is swift punishment. The source of the release of this recording should be swiftly tracked down and punished, if only for it to act as a deterrent to others who may feel it fair game to tape another’s conversation without their knowledge and use it without appropriate authority.
Every citizen should be afraid; not because big brother is listening, but because the systems which should be protecting our privacy do not exist or are being ignored. How is it that a private citizen’s phone call can be recorded, but we still have the police saying the hit was ordered from inside the prisons and they do not have the voice recording to be able to punish the perpetrator?
Is it that we are selectively targeting citizens? And if we are, should there be some publicised criteria so that citizens are aware of what will be flagged for recording by the state? How is it that someone who has the capacity to monitor and record the conversation of the judge can distribute the information with no penalty?
The steps are small from state surveillance, to censorship, to harassment and indefinite detention (Bail Bill). The steps from citizen surveillance to blackmail are even smaller.
I am all in favour of using the best technology for our common good, but there has to be known guidelines and citizens must be aware of the boundaries. There must be standards and practices which are adhered to and punishments dispensed for breeches.
We need systems and processes to protect our privacy and a clear understanding of how to access these systems and processes.