Macau | Civil law tradition should not be argument against publishing wiretap records - Activist

Political activist stated that civil law tradition cannot be used as an argument by the Macau SAR Government to not publish records of its telecommunication interception operations

Macau (MNA) – Political activist Jason Chao stated that civil law tradition cannot be used as an argument by the Macau SAR Government to not publish records of its telecommunication interception operations.

In a press release on Thursday, the activist was responding to a Judiciary Police (PJ) statement according to which the practice of publishing statistics on wire-tapping was ‘incompatible’ with the Macau legal code.

According to the political activist and former president of the New Macau Association, the criminal procedural codes of Macau, Portugal and Germany may be considered as ‘belonging to the same family,’ with the German criminal justice system stating that lawful interception of telecommunication requires the approval of the court.

Chao noted that the German government is required by law to publish the statistics on ordered interceptions of telecommunications every year, with the Federal Public Prosecution Office and the Länder (State) having to submit a report on the orders to intercept communications to the Federal Office of Justice every year, with the Federal Office of Justice making a summary of the orders available online.

According to the existing Macau legal system, lawful interception of telecommunication and data seizures are subject to judicial review, which requires the approval of the court.

Moreover, the local legal system is placed on the principle of legal reservation, the principle of judicial review and the principle of written permission. These basic principles run through the entire system and penetrate the process of monitoring and interception of legislation and practice.

Even though each request of interception would last for three months only, the police authorities could make renewal requests if necessary.

“This power [of legal approval] will virtually strip the procedural safeguards against unjustified data collection by the police authorities,” Mr. Chao stated referring to previous concerns.

Therefore, the activist emphasized that publishing numbers on wiretapping are not unusual in “civil law tradition”, mentioning that “respect for privacy” by no means reflects “true” respect for the privacy.

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