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“Get a warrant for metadata”: Human rights committee tells Brandis


Media statement

Greens spokesperson for Communications

Senator for WA Scott Ludlam

November 14, 2014


The multipartisan Human Rights Committee has delivered a sharp dose of common sense to the Government over its data retention legislation, recommending that warrants be required for access to metadata.

The report also stated that Australians be notified when their metadata is accessed, as well as questioning the proposed two year retention period.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has responsibility for examining all legislation for compatibility with human rights. The group, which includes a mix of Coalition, Labor and Greens MPs, today delivered a comprehensive and stinging multipartisan report into the Government’s controversial data retention legislation.

The committee’s report directly questioned whether the legislation represented a “proportionate” response to the needs of law enforcement organisations, as well as many of the specific aspects of the legislation.

The committee’s recommendations included the following:

·         That an explicit definition of metadata be included in the Data Retention legislation

·         That an explicit definition of content (data which would not be stored) be included in the Data Retention legislation

·         That the proposed two-year retention period be re-examined, in light of the fact that very few requests will need data more than six months’ old

·         That access to data be limited to investigations involving serious crimes

·         That access to metadata require a warrant approved by a court or independent administrative tribunal

·         That an oversight mechanism be established for the warrant approval process

·         That individuals be notified when their metadata is accessed, and that an avenue exist to challenge that access

Since the previous Labor Government first raised the issue of Data Retention in 2010, dozens of major Australian organisations from all sides of politics, civil society and the private sector have raised precisely the same issues which the bipartisan Joint Committee on Human Rights raised today.

It beggars belief that four and a half years later, as the Joint Committee on Human Rights has pointed out, the Government still has not published a definition of what metadata it wishes to retain under the scheme.

The Australian Greens call for all sides of politics to acknowledge that the Data Retention legislation is too flawed to proceed with and must be abandoned.

Australia’s law enforcement agencies are already filing 500,000 requests a year for warrantless access to metadata, and are more than capable of tackling serious crime with their existing powers. Treating all Australians as suspects by retaining all of our data will not make us safer and will open the floodgates to the invasion of privacy on a massive scale.

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