Spying error - US corrects Internet monitoring report

Jamaica welcomes US correction of Internet monitoring claims

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 03, 2015

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JUNIOR Technology Minister Julian Robinson has welcomed the clarification issued yesterday by the US Embassy in Kingston of a State Department comment that the Jamaican Government could be monitoring local online conversations.


"I am happy that they have issued a clarification, because what the State Department was saying was damaging to Jamaica's international reputation," Robinson told the Jamaica Observer when contacted last night.


He was referring to a correction of the statement included in the Internet Freedom subsection of the 2014 Jamaica Country Report on Human Rights Practices issued by the US Department of State yesterday.


The report had stated:


"The (Jamaican) Government did not restrict or disrupt access to the Internet or censor online content. There were credible reports, however, that the Government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority."


Since its circulation through the media, a large number of Jamaicans have raised concerns about government interference in private online communications, and its technological capability to do so.


In the absence of National Security Minister Peter Bunting, who has been away for the past week, Robinson, whose portfolio includes cyber technology, has been commenting on the matter.


On Wednesday, he challenged the US authorities to provide proof of the allegations laid against the Jamaican Government. Yesterday, the US Embassy in Kingston responded with a release saying that an inaccuracy had been published.


The embassy said that the US Department of State has now corrected the report and, as part of its process to develop these reports, the US Government wanted "a robust exchange" between civil society, the press, and government leaders on the issue.


"We welcome feedback on the report, with the objective of maintaining the most authoritative, comprehensive and factual review of the global state of human rights," the embassy said.


"When there are inaccuracies, the Department of State documents these errors online and issues corrections to ensure the integrity of the reports. The corrected version of the report is (now) available online," the embassy added.


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