A Police Insider Says Data Retention Could Be Used To Catch Pirates

Concerned about the scope of the currently proposed data retention legislation currently being considered by Parliament? An ex-police officer says that one day, your metadata could be used to identify whether you've been downloading TV shows and movies illegitimately.

Police car image via Shutterstock

A former police officer who has previous experience with metadata and its potential applications has told ABC Radio National's Download This Show that the oversight that currently exists over even currently retained metadata is minimal, and is ripe for abuse.

Using the example of an officer or other accredited agency user accessing metadata to "check up on their ex-girlfriend", the insider told the program that he had never seen a metadata request denied on the basis of its legitimacy, but only cost. He also said that the agency officials talking up the potential of metadata at the moment, and petitioning for more widespread access, have no hands-on experience: "...mobiles weren't invented when they walked the beat."

The extent of even something as basic as smartphone location metadata can be extremely detailed and granular; the huge amount of data that anyone with any kind of online or digital profile generates would be exponentially more useful for any agency with access to the proposed metadata retention regime. Unless there is enough oversight baked into the legislation and restraint exercised in its scope, the potential for abuse is there.

Here's the recording of Download This Show on SoundCloud:

ABC Radio National's Download This Show -- Exclusive: Police Insider Speaks Out on Mandatory Data Retention (SoundCloud)

A former police employee who has worked extensively with metadata has told Download this Show that the government’s proposed mandatory data retention regime is open for abuse and may one day be used against Australians who download music and TV shows. "The Australian people are being sleep walked into a system the attorney general cannot even articulate," said the insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

[ABC Radio National]

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