Feeds

Oz Green's plans exempt some phone metadata from warrants

Someone thought of the children

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Australia's debate about warrantless access to telecommunications metadata has been heated of late, fuelled by revelations that just about anyone can access such records. Even local councils' have been named in the federal Attorney-General's department's Annual Report (PDF)) as having looked up phone data.

Rural newspapers like the Wyndham Weekly puts it, have noted that the requests aren't being made to catch organised criminals or beat terrorists, but “to catch litterbugs and owners of unregistered pets”.

Nor was Wyndham the only local government to play the telecommunications records game: Bankstown Council in NSW received four authorisations in 2011-2012.

The council-level snooping was not made under Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act – the provision notoriously used by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to block Websites – but rather under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979. That Act allows requests for “existing documents” – such as call records – rather than for wiretaps.

Senator Scott Ludlam of the Greens' response to such requests is the Telecommunications Amendment (Get a Warrant) Bill 2013, which plans to amend the last-mentioned bill so that metadata requests can't be made without a warrant.

But The Reg can reveal one provision of the Bill will still allow warrantless metadata requests, namely tracking missing persons.

Vulture South has experience of the power of such requests, thanks to a personal experience when a person known to a co-author disappeared. Police's ability to quickly determine if the missing person's mobile phone was on meant the search could be focussed. Detection of the phone brought comfort to relatives. Combined with sightings, the search was quickly and positively resolved.

Ludlum's office was aware that the interception provisions of the Act already allow for warrantless requests to find missing persons, and when it drafted the Get A Warrant Bill and made sure it stayed. Plenty of people will be happy about those warrantless requests.

But Ludlum's office also acknowledged that some missing people don't want to be found. Such folk are probably as ticked off about warrantless metadata searches as those who prompted Ludlum to pen his bill. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.