Australian Federal Police: We Could Use Metadata To Prosecute Pirates [Update]

Worried that your metadata could be used to prosecute you in a piracy case? You should be: the Australian Federal Police Commissioner thinks that metadata could be very helpful to prosecute pirates. Updated with comments from Attorney General George Brandis.

When asked if stored metadata could be used to combat piracy, Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Andrew Colvin, replied at a press conference that the stored data of Australians could be used for a whole number of things, including anti-piracy:

"Absolutely. Any interface or connection someone has over the internet, we need to be able to identify the parties to that collection. Illegal downloads, piracy, cyber crimes, cyber security. Our ability to investigate them is pinned to the ability to retrieve metadata," Colvin told journalists.

In the context of the upcoming crackdown on piracy, Malcolm Turnbull quickly qualified the statement saying rights holders probably wouldn't be interested in getting access to metadata. Simply put, Turnbull said, rights holders already have mechanisms with which to identify and pursue those engaging in illegal file sharing:

"A lot of internet piracy, downloading and sharing material is done by way of file-sharing, but the way that works is a torrent stream is created in which there are a whole number of computers with their own IPs that are sharing this pirated content. What the rights owners do is they use different programs to participate in the swarm and identify the IP addresses of the computers infringing copyright, and then they seek from the ISPs via subpoena the account details of the holder. They do this pretty much in real-time so the two year holding of data doesn’t make a big difference in terms of copyright infringement, they’re dealing with the here and now. The police commissioners interests tend to be much longer. It is relevant and it happens all the time."

Update (5:30pm): Attorney General George Brandis has also distanced himself from the comments of the AFP Commissioner, saying that data retention won't be used to prosecute pirates.

Image: Shutterstock

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