Remember the data retention laws that were introduced late 2015? It forces telcos to retain metadata on mobile and broadband users for at least two years. The data would assist in criminal and terrorism investigations. Now the Government wants to open the data up to be used for civil lawsuits. It called for public to comment on the issue right before Christmas (cheeky bastards) and public comment submissions close January 13.
The Attorney-General's Department (AGD) has opened up a review on data retention laws: "The Attorney-General’s Department is inviting submissions to support a review by the Minister for Communications and the Attorney-General into access to telecommunications data in civil proceedings."
For those who are still unfamiliar with what metadata is, think of it as data about your data. This could include the name, source of a communication, duration and time of a communication. You can find the full list here. Some people would say that the information is insignificant but privacy experts have warned that you can build up a pretty accurate profile of an individual and their activities based on the metadata. That's why police and security agencies want to get their hands on it.
There's already an issue with random Government agencies applying to get access to the metadata that's being collected (why does the Taxi Services Commission in Victoria want access?). Now the Government is toying with the idea of letting the data be used in civil cases. For example, if a corporation wants to take you to court (for say, copyright infringement?), the metadata an ISP collected on you would be pretty useful it.
If you have concerns about privacy and other implications of potentially expanded data retention laws, have your say before you clock your brain out for the holidays.
The AGD is calling for submissions from the public for the review. You can make your submission here. The deadline is 5.00pm AEDT on Friday 13 January 2017.
This article originally appeared on Lifehacker Australia.