EFA Still Wants Government To Get A Warrant For Your Metadata

Less than three months since legislation to restrict access to metadata without a warrant to a select few Commonwealth agencies came into effect, The Australian Government has revealed the details of 57 agencies that have requested access to your metadata.

In response, internet freedoms lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has today called on the Attorney-General to reject a large number of these applications, and has renewed calls for warrants to be required to access metadata.

EFA Executive Officer Jon Lawrence said today, "The restricted list of agencies able to access telecommunications data is the first and only meaningful limitation on the previously unfettered access to this information by any public or quasi-public agency. If the Attorney-General is serious about the integrity of his legislation and about protecting the civil liberties of all Australians, then he must act swiftly to reject the majority of these applications.”

"Metadata is the basic building block in nearly every counter-terrorism, counter-espionage and organised crime investigation. It is also essential for child abuse and child pornography offences that are frequently carried out online." the Attorney-General said back in March 2015.

Agencies that have requested access to metadata include Bankstown City Council, Australia Post, National Measurement Institute, Greyhound Racing Victoria and Victorian Taxi Services Commission.

"Given the justifications for this legislation, most Australians will rightly question why these types of organisations consider that they should be added to the list of agencies able to access the telecommunications data of any Australian, without a warrant," said the EFA in a statement.

Questions have been once again raised as to why warrants are not required to access the general public's metadata. The EFA have brushed off concerns that it may cause issues.

"There are 11 Member States within the European Union that currently require judicial authorisation for all requests for access to retained data, demonstrating that a universal warrant requirement is not an undue burden on security and law enforcement agencies," it stated.

A warrant is currently required to access Journalist's metadata, which the the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has concluded is inadequate as it could "limit the right to an effective remedy, fair hearing, privacy and freedom of expression."

“Carving one section of the community out of a mandatory, society-wide data retention scheme is impossible in practice," says Mr Lawrence. "There are many other privileged communications that also deserve protection, in addition to the critical need to facilitate effective whistle-blowing.

"The only effective means to protect such communications is for the warrant requirement to be extended to the entire population.”



    I want to see the applications... what did those agencies write to justify their need for metadata. What do those agencies have to say / comment on their needs.

    What does (insert your agency) require metadata for, and how will it improve it your ability to protect Australians from terrorists or series crimes of murder / sexual abuse ?

    Will the US's MPAA request and be given access to the metadata so that it can continue its global campaign against people who download content contrary to the content's copyright license more efficiently?

      No. The meta data is only for law enforcement. Not that metadata would help them.

        Did you miss the part about "57" (non law enforcement) "agencies that have requested access to your metadata."

          Sorry, you want to get pedantic? Fine, I'll rephrase it.

          The meta data is only for official government agencies or departments

          Is MPAA in the list? Or any non government organization? Unless you suspect that one of the 2 redacted ones are MPAA or something, the point still stands.

          Last edited 21/01/16 1:59 pm

    The horse has bolted. Why weren't the EFA speaking up about this back when the legislation was being proposed. I'm glad I no longer donate to them, they're akin to the EFF only in name, such a disappointment.

    Good luck getting anything out of ol' Brandis... he won't even give up unclassified diary entries from 2-3 years ago

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