Being transparent is in vogue right now, and to keep up, Telstra has decided to come clean about all the government and law enforcement requests it gets for customer data. There are more than you think.
Between 1 July and 31 December last year, Telstra got a whopping 40,644 requests from law enforcement bodies for customer data.
Telstra breaks the requests down into four categories:
• Telstra customer information, carriage service records and pre-warrant checks • Life threatening situations and Triple Zero emergency calls • Court orders • Warrants for interception or access to stored communications
Here's just how many requests for data those categories garnered:
A whopping 36,000 requests were made for phone records by law enforcement agencies. Telstra describes these queries as a request for customer information that may appear on a phone bill like a name or address, as well as connection dates. Carriage service records requests include call history and SMS records, and more disturbingly, the email logs of Bigpond customers if required.
Warrant requests are slightly more troubling, however, as they give agencies access to real-time communications as they happen over Telstra's network.
It's worth noting that these are the number of requests made to Telstra for data. It doesn't say if all were agreed to.
Telstra calls this a transparency report, but it's still quite opaque in nature: Telstra isn't actually including the number of requests for information made by national security agencies. The number could be in the millions and we'd never know it.
Check out the full report here.