Feeds

Oz Green's plans exempt some phone metadata from warrants

Someone thought of the children

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.