CBR Police make illegal metadata searches

Ramesha Perera
Wed 24 Jul

Police have conducted a series of illegal metadata searches, including Western Australian police obtaining invalid warrants targeting journalists and ACT police accessing data 116 times without proper authorisation.

The breaches of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act are revealed in a Commonwealth Ombudsman report for the period July 2016 to June 2017, tabled in parliament by the government on Monday.

The metadata retention laws, introduced in 2015, allow law enforcement agencies to access telecommunications data including call records, IP addresses and other so-called metadata when investigating certain offences. Journalists’ data can also be accessed, but only with a warrant.

The report also revealed that between 13 and 26 October 2015 “all authorisations within ACT policing were made by an officer not authorised” by the relevant section of the law. 

“This issue affected 116 authorisations during the period,” it said. “This issue also affected a large number of authorisations dating back to March 2015, which precede the commencement of our office’s oversight on 13 October 2015.”

The AFP advised the breach occurred because its commissioner failed to authorise any officers within ACT Policing to access metadata due to an “administrative oversight”.

Some oversight. See here for the full article