Data Retention Laws May Open Up Metadata Access To Civil Court Cases: Have Your Say

Data Retention Laws May Open Up Metadata Access To Civil Court Cases: Have Your Say

Remember the data retention laws that were introduced late last year? It forces telcos to retain metadata on mobile and broadband users for at least two years. The data would assist in criminal and terrorism investigations. Now the Government wants to open the data up to be used for civil lawsuits. It has called for public to comment on the issue. Right before Christmas. Cheeky bastards.

The Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) has opened up a review on data retention laws: “The Attorney-General’s Department is inviting submissions to support a review by the Minister for Communications and the Attorney-General into access to telecommunications data in civil proceedings.”

For those who are still unfamiliar with what metadata is, think of it as data about your data. This could include the name, source of a communication, duration and time of a communication. You can find the full list here. Some people would say that the information is insignificant but privacy experts have warned that you can build up a pretty accurate profile of an individual and their activities based on the metadata. That’s why police and security agencies want to get their hands on it.

There’s already an issue with random Government agencies applying to get access to the metadata that’s being collected (why does the Taxi Services Commission in Victoria want access?). Now the Government is toying with the idea of letting the data be used in civil cases. For example, if a corporation wants to take you to court (for say, copyright infringement?), the metadata an ISP collected on you would be pretty useful it.

If you have concerns about privacy and other implications of potentially expanded data retention laws, have your say before you clock your brain out for the holidays.

The AGD is calling for submissions from the public for the review. You can make your submission here. The deadline is 5.00pm AEDT on Friday 13 January 2017.


  • This is 2012 all over again; Conroy tried to do something similar with the Internet Filter legislation.

    Clearly shows what both sides think of the Australian population.

    • The similarity lies in how ineffective it is to either analyse or block connections based on the naive assumption that people connect directly from their ISP-assigned IP address to the remote sites in question.

    • Data Retention doesn’t show requests to any IP addresses.
      All it records is the IP address you are assigned when you make your connection to your ISP, as well as how long that connection is up.

  • The same ADG that insisted this is for criminal and terrorist investigations… the same ADG who is best buddies with Village Roadshow. This was predictable and should be stopped immediately. Selling our information to corporations for a political donation and a handshake, Brandis is the lowest form of scum in Australian politics.

  • This will severely degrade the effectiveness of law enforcement in terrorism and major crimes, paranoia of being wrongfully persecuted by corporations and litigious lawyers would proliferate the use of VPNs as a common internet tool… where the effectiveness for it to analyse and time-machine crimes mute especially in spontaneous crimes.

    If the corporation/individual has just cause to persue meta-data, they should file criminal charges and let law enforcement access the meta-data… else this is in direct violation of the original intent of the law and the privacy of individuals.

    All I need to do to get access to your internet history, is sue you and convince a judge I need it. One poorly written court order and I can get 2 years of your internet history for the cost of a lawyer and a day in court… then I can use that to threaten you to pay anything I want.

    • Data Retention has nothing to do with your “internet history”, so, no, you can’t do that.

      • Just because they don’t log URL’s, doesn’t mean they don’t know what sites you’ve been visiting.

        Educate yourself.

        • It’s not data they retain. The Data Retention Act doesn’t require them to retain it.

          So… would they possibly *know* information they don’t keep?

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