Reminder: These Are The Government Agencies That Want Your Data

Reminder: These Are The Government Agencies That Want Your Data

Last year, the Australian government released a partially-redacted list of Commonwealth agencies that have applied for access to metadata retained by Australia’s telecommunications providers as part of the Telecommunications Interception and Access Act. (This information was only released in response to a Freedom of Information request.)

There are over five dozen government entities that want to look through your mobile, internet and home phone records, ostensibly to uncover criminal activity.

Data retention has been in force in Australia since October 2015, when the law to enable it passed our Senate by a majority of 43 votes to 16. While telcos are required to store customer data for a minimum of two years for access by registered and sanctioned agencies, there is ongoing confusion over the requirements for that retention.

There are somewhere between 250 and over 500 internet service providers in Australia — the exact number is unknown, as there is no licensing scheme in place or required. Each of those ISPs is required to retain data, but the onus on them to do so is not equal — smaller ISPs bear more financial burden in doing so.

Proper implementation of the data retention scheme even for larger companies is likely at least a year away, according to Internet Australia CEO Laurie Patton. Australia’s largest ISP, Telstra, applied for an 18 month extension on the implementation to work out how to integrate such a broad retention scheme into its existing systems.

Although the precise nature of Australia’s metadata retention is unclear, it’s thought to extend to telecommunications users’ personal details, records of the IP addresses used by their devices, and the broad details of the websites that they access — not the content of the communication itself, but the record that the communication took place. Approved agencies can access stored metadata without having to get a warrant beforehand.

Here’s the full list, including the jurisdiction of those agencies:

  1. Australian Financial Security Authority, Commonwealth
  2. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), Commonwealth
  3. Australian Postal Corporation, Commonwealth
  4. Australian Taxation Office, Commonwealth
  5. Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, Commonwealth
  6. Civil Aviation, Safety Authority (CASA), Commonwealth
  7. Clean Energy Regulator, Commonwealth
  8. Department of Agriculture, Commonwealth
  9. Department of Defence (ADFIS and IGD), Commonwealth
  10. Department of the Environment, Commonwealth
  11. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Commonwealth
  12. Department of Health, Commonwealth
  13. Department of Human Services, Commonwealth
  14. Department of Social Services, Commonwealth
  15. Fair Work Building and Construction, Commonwealth
  16. National Measurement Institute, Commonwealth
  17. ACT Revenue Office, ACT
  18. Access Canberra (Department of Treasury and Economic Development), ACT
  19. Bankstown City Council, NSW
  20. Consumer Affairs, VIC
  21. Consumer, Building and Occupational Services (Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading – Department of Justice), TAS
  22. Consumer and Business Services, SA
  23. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, QLD
  24. Department of Commerce, WA
  25. Department of Corrective Services, WA
  26. Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, QLD
  27. Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources (Fisheries), VIC
  28. Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, VIC
  29. Department of Environment Regulation, WA
  30. Department of Fisheries, WA
  31. Department of Justice and Regulation (Consumer Affairs), VIC
  32. Department of Justice and Regulation (Sheriff of Victoria), VIC
  33. Department of Mines and Petroleum, WA
  34. Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries), NSW
  35. Environment Protection Authority, SA
  36. Greyhound Racing Victoria, VIC
  37. Harness Racing New South Wales, NSW
  38. Health Care Complaints Commission, NSW
  39. Legal Services Board, VIC
  40. NSW Environment Protection Authority, NSW
  41. NSW Fair Trading, NSW
  42. Office of Environment & Heritage, NSW
  43. Office of Fair Trading (Department of Justice And Attorney-General Office of the Director General), QLD
  44. Office of State Revenue, NSW
  45. Office of State Revenue, QLD
  46. Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner, VIC
  47. Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), SA
  48. Queensland Building and Construction Commission, QLD
  49. Racing and Wagering Western Australia, WA
  50. Racing NSW, NSW
  51. Racing Queensland, QLD
  52. Roads and Maritime Serices NSW, NSW
  53. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), VIC
  54. State Revenue Office, VIC
  55. Taxi Services Commission, VIC
  56. RevenueSA, SA
  57. Victorian WorkSafe Authority, VIC

Four agencies have also been redacted from the document under Section 47b as well — their disclosure would be “contrary to the public interest” — for a total of 61 government entities that have applied for ongoing access to the telecommunications data of Australian citizens and residents.

That’s a lot.

An easy quick-fix to this situation is to invest in a reliable virtual private network (VPN). While by no means foolproof, a VPN does provide some level of protection against government snooping. If you’re not sure where to start with VPNs, these guides should help to steer you in the right direction:

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What Is A VPN?

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are increasing in popularity amongst internet users. But what the heck are they?

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The Biggest Misconceptions About VPNs

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The Five Best VPNs For 2017

We last updated our list of best VPN providers in 2014, but a lot has changed since then. With Netflix blocking VPNs and privacy becoming more of a concern than ever, the parameters of a good VPN for Aussie users have shifted. Some popular choices have fallen out of favour of late, so we've had a look at what VPN users in Australia are recommending now and for the year ahead.

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Opera's Free Inbuilt VPN Rolls Out For Everyone Today

Windows/Mac/Linux. A few months ago, Opera launched its own free, built-in VPN, but you could only get it if you manually enabled it in the dev version of the browser. Now, it's available for everyone in the stable version of Opera.

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[Via Right To Know]

This article originally appeared on Gizmodo Australia


  • The unmentionable four are:

    Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Commonwealth,
    Australian Secret Intelligence Service, Commonwealth
    Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Commonwealth
    Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Commonwealth

  • The government doesnt respect the privacy of their citizens anymore. This is exactly why i have installed purevpn and tor together. So, my privacy is secure

  • People are always recommending using a VPN and excuse me if this is a silly question, but should we be looking for a VPN that is NOT based in Australia or other countries such as USA, UK, Canada that have similar type metadata laws? I realise that most VPNs adcertise that do not collect/hold users data but if Big Brother, I mean Government asks for the metadat then surely they have to oblige or be closed down?

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