29 March 2015

Metadata Access

The SMH reports that around 2500 officials - mostly in the Australian Federal Police and state police forces - will be able to sign off on access to phone and internet records under the new metadata regime, which provides for warrantless access to metadata on the basis that a request has been authorised by a 'senior official'.

The SMH states that
NSW Police leads the way with more than 900 senior officers able to sign off on junior colleagues' requests to get data. Victoria Police have more than 400 officers who meet the threshold of seniority to approve the requests and Queensland Police more than 300. The Australian Federal Police have 190 sworn officers who can authorise requests, though a spokesman said fewer than 55 did so in the regular course of their jobs.  ...
 Most state police forces authorise officers at the rank of Inspector and above to approve requests.
In addition to police forces, the Australian Taxation Office has 276 senior staff who can approve requests, the Australian Crime Commission has 21 staff, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has three staff and the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption has eight staff.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service refused to say how many of its staff approved access to people's metadata, but its latest annual report shows it has 65 staff at Senior Executive Service level – typically the level required to authorise requests.
A range of integrity and anti-corruption agencies can also access metadata, generally with fewer than 10 staff empowered to approve access.
In practice we now have a self-serve model for access, given the bureaucratic incapacity of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and under-resourcing of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.