Victoria's racing minister flogs metadata access horse

Requests access to data trove for Racing Integrity Commissioner

In the Australian State of Victoria, the first Tuesday in November is a public holiday to celebrate The Melbourne Cup*, a horse race known as "the race-that stops a nation." And on yesterday's holiday, the latest piece of scope-creep wish-listing over Australia's data retention regime should emerged and concerned the horse-racing industry.

Victoria's attorney general and racing minister Martin Pakula, responsible for the department that's trying to police an industry that's long had a reputation for hanging around with the wrong kind of people, has written to Australia's federal attorney general Senator George Brandis asking for access to retained data to help investigations.

Specifically, he wants Victoria's Racing Integrity Commissioner to be designated as one of the agencies permitted access to stored data.

One of the few concessions the federal government made to get its data retention legislation passed was to constrain the number of agencies able to access the data. Previously, practically anybody down to local council officers and the Royal Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals could ask for communications data; whether they got it depended mostly on whether it was held by carriers.

The bill delegates the power to grant access to the attorney general (by regulation rather than having to pass new legislation for each new agency), and that's what Pakula wants for the equine investigators.

The Victorian minister made the request public in this Tweet:

Agency creep began as soon as the legislation was passed, when Australia's newly-minted combined customs, immigration coast guard agency, Border Force, was granted access in May. At the time, the only effective opponent to the legislation, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, warned that other agencies would join the queue. ®

*Bootnote: Overseas readers might find the phenomenon of the Melbourne Cup an odd cultural institution: those in Victoria get a public holiday to celebrate a horse-race; those who spend the most money attending the race rarely watch it; and everybody right down to school-children probably expects to at least down tools for a few minutes and watch it on a TV. No, Vulture South doesn't understand it either. ®


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