Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hotels required to report guest details to police

According to a report in today's Sunday Times:
The management of tourist resorts countrywide is now required to report to the Police Station in their area whenever bookings are made by local guests. Besides their names, the address, the date of arrival and departure are among the data sought.
The report goes on to elaborate that:
such data were often transmitted by the Police Station concerned to the District Intelligence Bureau (DIB). They in turn forward that information to the State Intelligence Service (SIS) at Cambridge Place, Colombo. 
The surveillance has already started, the report quotes a hotel manager who is uncomfortable with sending out the information but does so anyway because "Otherwise they find fault with us.”

Under what law are hotels being required to cough up this information? These acts are probably unconstitutional and outside the law, but what does that matter? The laws of the land exist only for the purpose of repressing the weak, the powerless or some unfortunate political opponent.

The collection of guests data used to happen in the North and East during the conflict but I believe the practice stopped after the war ended. Now it appears to have been resurrected in a wider form that covers all parts of the country. Previously, the Government could claim that there was a war on. Now what excuse do they have? Are they monitoring NGO workers? Journalists? Opposition politicians? Who knows? Perhaps the see enemies around every nook and corner?

There have been stories circulating of the police or military trying to collect information on households in some parts of the country, this new move fits in with a general pattern of surveillance that appears to be in place.   

The Sunday Times report compares this to the acts of the Stasi, or the Ministry of State Security- the secret police that operated in the former East Germany.  Very apt, but the parallels are a lot closer than people suspect. The Stasi were responsible for the surveillance of mail and telephone conversations as well more regular types of spying.

I don't think the post is being monitored but it is known that telephones are being tapped. I believe the practice started in 2008 when all phone users were required to register their  SIM cards. The phone companies then had a database of all users and were required to give access to the powers-that-be.

Such things should not happen in free or open societies, but then, we already know that we are neither, don't we?


Cadence said...

I think people are getting used to all these idiosyncracies as a way of life. Doesn't make it right though. You also missed the inland revenue! :)

Jack Point said...

Thanks for the comment Cadence. Long time no see?