Thursday, 29 October 2020 11:53

CA calls for restricting state agencies' access to metadata Featured

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CA calls for restricting state agencies' access to metadata Image by James Osborne from Pixabay

The lobby group representing the telecommunications industry has called on the government to accept recommendations made by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security and repeal two sections of a law which have allowed numerous state agencies to gain access to Australians' telecommunications metadata.

The repeal of two sections of the Telecommunications Act 1997 was among the 22 recommendations made by the PJCIS on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Communications Alliance said the two sections allowed state agencies – many of which did not appear to be dealing with serious crime issues and were outside the 22 law enforcement agencies that were named by the government as authorised recipients of metadata, to gain access to metadata in line with the provisions of the Data Retention legislation.

Among the other recommendations made by the PJCIS were:

  • the creation of guidelines to control the way that enforcement agencies request metadata from telecommunications providers;
  • stricter rules on government reporting about the operation of the scheme and the requirement to table annual reports, after previous reports were delayed for more than a year;
  • clarification of the definition of "content and substance of communications" and consideration of whether some information that is currently treated as metadata should be regarded as content;
  • excluding from the regime the trillions of pieces of data (typically ‘machine-to-machine’ in nature) that travel across networks servicing the connected devices that form the Internet of Things;
  • tightening the circumstances in which authorised enforcement agencies can seek metadata without a warrant; and
  • the creation of uniform standards for the security of the metadata retained by telecommunications providers under the regime.

CA chief executive John Stanton said: "Closing this dangerous loophole – under which Australians can have their personal data exposed without their knowledge and without a warrant as part of investigations into crimes such as littering – is a vital security ‘fix’ that the government must act on.”

He congratulated the PJCIS on the outcomes of its latest inquiry.

“This committee has done a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ on behalf of the Parliament and the Australian people when it comes to complex national security issues in recent years and has again managed to land on rational, evidence-based and bipartisan recommendations to government," Stanton said.

“Federal ministers must endorse and implement the recommendations. Doing so will go a long way to restoring public confidence in the operation of the data retention framework.”

The Criminal Law Enforcement Agencies that have access to telecommunications data pursuant to Section 110A of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act) are:

  • Australian Federal Police
  • a police force of a state
  • Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
  • ACC
  • Immigration and Border Protection Department
  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • Crime Commission
  • Independent Commission Against Corruption
  • Law Enforcement Conduct Commission
  • IBAC
  • Crime and Corruption Commission
  • Corruption and Crime Commission
  • Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

Agencies/departments that have sought telecommunications data from one or more carriers since the passage of the data retention legislation:

  • Australian Crime Commission
  • Australian Border Force
  • ACLEI
  • AFP
  • AFP ACT Policing
  • AFP PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
  • AFSA
  • ASIC
  • Australian Tax Office
  • Australia Post Corporate Security Group
  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  • BANKSTOWN CITY COUNCIL
  • BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL
  • CENTRELINK
  • CONSUMER & BUSINESS AFFAIRS – VIC
  • Corrections Intelligence Group – NSW
  • CRIME AND MISCONDUCT COMMISSION
  • Customs
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Defence
  • Department of Environment and Conservation WA
  • DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, JOBS, TRANSPORT & RESOURCES
  • DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION AND BORDER PROTECTION
  • DEPT FAIR TRADING NSW
  • DEPT FAIR TRADING-BRISBANE
  • DEPT OF COMMERCE WA
  • DEPT OF FAMILIES, HOUSING COMMUNITY SERVICES
  • DIBP CANBERRA
  • DIBP MELBOURNE
  • DIBP QLD
  • DIBP SYDNEY
  • FACS
  • FAIRFIELD CITY COUNCIL
  • FAIR WORK BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION
  • HEALTHCARE COMPLAINTS COMMISSIONS
  • IBAC
  • ICAC SYDNEY
  • NSW CC
  • NSW EPA
  • NSW Office of State Revenue
  • NSW Police
  • NSW POLICE PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
  • NSW Government Trade, Investment, Resources and Energy
  • NT POLICE
  • NTPOL
  • OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT & HERITAGE
  • OFFICE OF STATE REVENUE NSW
  • Police Integrity Commission – NSW
  • PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND RESOURCES SA
  • PRIMARY INDUSTRIES NSW
  • PRIMARY INDUSTRIES QLD
  • PRIMARY INDUSTRIES VIC
  • QLD Department of Fair Trading
  • QLD TRANSPORT
  • Queensland Police Service
  • Racing Integrity VIC
  • REGIONAL ILLEGAL DUMPING SQUAD
  • Rockdale City Council
  • SA FISHERIES
  • SA ICAC
  • SA POLICE ANTI CORRUPTION
  • SA POLICE INTERNAL INVESTIGATION BRANCH
  • SA POLICE STATE INTELLIGENCE
  • TAS POLICE
  • TAS POLICE INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
  • Taxi Services Commission
  • TRANSPORT ACCIDENT COMMISSION MELBOURNE
  • VIC DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, JOBS, TRANSPORT AND RESOURCES
  • VIC Department of Justice
  • VIC Department of Health and Human Services
  • VIC POLICE ETHICAL STANDARDS
  • VIC INSTITUTE OF TEACHING
  • VIC POLICE
  • VIC Sheriff’s Offices
  • WA CCC
  • WA Department of Fair Trading
  • WA FISHERIES
  • WA POLICE STATE INTELLIGENCE DIVISION
  • Work Safe VIC
  • WORKPLACE HEALTH & SAFETY

An additional 27 agencies/departments that have sought telecommunications data from one or more carriers since November 2018:

  • Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  • ASIC WA
  • Australian Building & Construction Commission
  • Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority
  • Australian Transport Safety Bureau
  • Clean Energy Regulator
  • Coroners via NT Police
  • Coroners via Tas Police
  • State Coroner’s Court
  • WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety
  • SA Department of Consumer and Business Services
  • Health Support Queensland
  • Hunter Region Illegal Dumping Squad
  • Legal Services Commission
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate (Vic.)
  • National Disability Insurance Agency
  • NT Office of Information and Public Interest Disclosures
  • Office of the Health Ombudsman (Qld)
  • Queensland Office of Industrial Relations
  • Report Illegal Dumping (NSW)
  • SafeWork NSW
  • State Penalties Enforcement Registry (Qld)
  • Veterinary Surgeons Board of WA
  • Victorian Building Authority
  • Victorian Fisheries
  • Victorian Ombudsman

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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