Monday, 01 May 2017 10:11

EFA calls for 'universal' metadata warrants

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Electronic Frontiers Australia has added its voice to the calls for a tightening of the rules allowing access to telecommunications metadata.

Last week, the Australian Federal Police admitted it had illegally obtained the phone records of an unnamed journalist.

This led Internet Australia to call for a new parliamentary inquiry into the Data Retention Act.

Now EFA has weighed into the discussion.

EFA noted AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin's assertion that "the police officers investigating the leak did not realise they were required to obtain a warrant to access the journalist's metadata" but described the officers' lack of awareness of that requirement as "inexcusable."

EFA executive officer Jon Lawrence said: “A whole range of relationships are no less deserving of independent protection than are journalist’s communications with their sources, including lawyers and their clients, doctors and their patients, and any other relationship where privacy is critical. The only effective means to achieve such protection is to have a universal warrant requirement for access to retained telecommunications data.

“Without a universal warrant requirement we will continue to see instances of unauthorised access to data, regardless of whether such access is inadvertent or malicious.

“A majority of European Union member states have some form of independent, judicial authorisation required for access to telecommunications data. Such arrangements are therefore clearly workable and Australians are no less deserving of the same protection.”

The EFA is seeking the immediate introduction of a universal warrant requirement for all access to retained telecommunications data.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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