Submission to the Inquiry into Access to Telecommunications Data in Civil Proceedings

Download this submission:
Submission to the Inquiry into Access to Telecommunications Data in Civil Proceedings (PDF, 136 KB, 27 January 2017).

In January 2017, the Attorney General's department called for submissions on the proposed use of telecommunications metadata in civil proceedings. Our submission was one of 262, including 60 from anonymous individuals.

The Science Party aims to overturn this legislation entirely, to end mandatory data retention, so it should be no surprise that we argued against extending the use of retained metadata to civil cases. Submissions to this inquiry were overwhelmingly in opposition to opening up the data for these purposes.

The Australian government's metadata retention scheme was passed without evidence that it would assist its supposed cause of helping to prevent and solve serious crimes such as terrorism and child abuse, and in the face of huge opposition to the threat it posed to civil liberties.

Not content with a scheme that would fail to keep Australians safe from violent crime, the government floated the idea of using retained metadata in civil proceedings, so the scheme could also fail to protect us from civil offences.

The Science Party wrote about the introduction of the scheme 18 months ago. From 13th October 2015, telcos were able to begin collecting metadata associated with communications, to be stored for two years, and from 13th April 2017 they will be obliged to do so. This is the deadline for these companies—many of them small businesses—to have in place the systems required to store petabytes of data.

We have also written about the negative impacts of this scheme on our Repeal Watch blog. 

The Science Party will continue to fight against bad legislation and for your rights.


UPDATE (13/4/2017): On the day that data retention became mandatory, the Attorney General's department announced that retained metadata will not be able to be accessed for civil proceedings. 

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