Data retention is coming to Australia very soon.
[Data retained] includes your name, address and other identifying information, your contract details, billing and payment information. In relation to each communication, it includes the date, start and finish times, and the identities of the other parties to the communication. And it includes the location data, such as the mobile cell towers or Wi-Fi hotspots you were accessing at the time…
But surely they’ve included special protections for communications between doctors and patients, and lawyers and clients? No. Never even discussed…
The Joint Committee recommended that the Act be amended to ensure that the metadata can’t be obtained by parties in civil litigation cases (I’ve mentioned before how excited litigation lawyers will be about all this lovely new data), and George Brandis said that would be fixed in the final amendments. But it isn’t there. The final Bill being bulldozed through Parliament right now contains no such protection. The fact remains that, under the Telecommunications Act, one of the situations in which a service provider cannot resist handing over stored data is when a court has required it by issuing a subpoena. In practice, that means that your ex-spouse, former business partners, suspicious insurance company or employer can get hold of a complete digital history of your movements and communications for the past two years, and use it against you in court.
Michael Bradley, Our privacy is about to be serially infringed, The Drum, March 19 2015
Noted elsewhere: all this data will be stored by various companies with varying degrees of security awareness, so in practice it will sometimes be available to some criminals too.
- Vague assurances as metadata laws sail through, Editorial, The Canberra Times, March 19 2015
- Daniel Hurst, Australia’s new ‘improved’ data retention laws: how will they work?, The Guardian, March 19 2015
- Bernard Keane, Your guide to the data retention debate: what it is and why it’s bad, Crikey, March 18, 2015
Image credit: Surveillance by Jonathan McIntosh, Creative Commons Atttribution-Sharealike