Phone company only supplies customers records when legally required - CEO
Stabroek News
January 30, 2004

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The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Ltd (GT&T) has supplied details of customer records on request to the courts and police authorities but only in compliance with the Telecommunications Act.

GT&T's General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Sonita Jagan, confirmed this at a press briefing yesterday. She said the company is obligated to do so in respect of a judicial order or one from the Commissioner of Police.

Jagan's response came in the wake of concerns over the security of the telephone service following the disclosure of a record of calls between the just deceased Axel Williams and Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj.

This newspaper has seen telephone records which show that the minister had frequently been in contact with Williams via telephone; in some instances, several times a day.

While not being able to verify the authenticity of the telephone record or it origins, Jagan said its circulation had prompted the company to conduct a thorough review of its systems. "It is my understanding that it is Mr Axel Williams's bill... We have not seen that bill and in our perspective we are not able to say whether indeed that is an authentic document or not," the CEO said.

According to Jagan, the disclosure of the bill had resulted in a complete internal review of GT&T's systems and mechanisms have been put in place to monitor the issuing of itemised local calls printouts. "Our position is in fact, we have like the rest of the public seen these in newscasts, we have not seen the document and bills that are circulating out there."

With the new mechanism, any attempt to obtain such copies would see a unique user identification being prompted, which would allow the company to verify that it was taken from its system, Jagan said.

She was nevertheless satisfied that the company is in no way breaching the confidentiality of its customers, nor was it involved in "phone tapping".

The GT&T head also said she is almost certain there had been no leaks from her company over the last year and even if they were loopholes, these have been tightened in the recent times.

Jagan was careful to dissociate the company from issues surrounding the use of information for criminal purposes. She insisted that GT&T only supplied such information as stipulated under the Telecommunication Act and this was after scrutiny by its lawyers to ascertain compliance with the law.