GOVERNMENT MUST SUPPORT SECURITY COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS AND REPAIR THE DATA RETENTION REGIME

Sydney, 29 October 2020 - The telecommunications industry calls on the Federal Government to accept and implement the new recommendations of Parliament’s security committee, which would close a loophole that State bodies (other than security agencies) can use to access the personal data of millions of Australians.

Communications Alliance today endorsed the bipartisan recommendations of the federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), following the committee’s exhaustive review of Australia’s mandatory two-year Data Retention regime.

The Committee recommended the repeal of two sections of the Telecommunications Act 1997, which have been used by more than 80 State agencies and bodies as a loophole to gain access – without a warrant – to the telecommunications metadata of Australian citizens.

The State agencies – many of which don’t appear to be dealing with serious crime issues – are outside the 22 law enforcement agencies that were named by the Government as authorised recipients of metadata, in line with the provisions of the Data Retention legislation.

“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,” said Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton.

The PJCIS made 22 Recommendations for improvement to the Data Retention legislation, including:

  • 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’ (IoT);
  • 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.
Mr Stanton 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.

“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.”

A list of entities seeking access to metadata is included below.

Entities Seeking Access to Telecommunications Data 

At Part 1 is a list compiled by Communications Alliance Carrier Members and submitted to the PJCIS in November 2018, in response to a request from the Committee. It presents a composite picture across the industry of which agencies/departments had, at that time, sought telecommunications data from one or more carriers since the passage of the data retention legislation. The list might not be complete.

At Part 2 is a list of an additional 27 agencies/departments that have sought telecommunications data from one or more carriers in the period since November 2018. This list might also not be complete.

At Part 3 is the list of Criminal Law Enforcement Agencies that have access to telecommunications data pursuant to Section 110A of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act).

Please note that:

  • a request for metadata does not necessarily mean that the metadata sought was disclosed (in some cases what it sought is not available and/or has not been retained by the time the request is made); and
  • in some cases, a single request for metadata results in multiple disclosures, depending on the nature of the request.

Part 1:
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

Part 2:
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

Part 3:
1. Australian Federal Police
2. a Police Force of a State
3. Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
4. ACC
5. Immigration and Border Protection Department
6. Australian Securities and Investments Commission
7. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
8. Crime Commission
9. Independent Commission Against Corruption
10.Law Enforcement Conduct Commission
11.IBAC
12.Crime and Corruption Commission
13.Corruption and Crime Commission
14.Independent Commissioner Against Corruption

ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the  communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet  service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Its vision is to  provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead  it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and  services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of  consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.
 

Media information contact:
Sefiani
Kurt Graham kgraham@sefiani.com.au
0431 478 558