Data Retention laws and APP 12

David Wilson - Mar 29, 2015

In a recent article we covered a Telstra customer’s metadata request and mentioned that the upcoming data retention laws were about to be put to a vote in the senate. Well, the laws were passed in Federal Parliament which means that telecommunication companies will be required to store customer metadata for two years in order for it to be accessible to key government agencies. It has not not yet been agreed upon who will be paying for the potentially costly setup of such retention systems, however, given that the laws were passed for the benefit of law enforcement agencies and that there is no great benefit to the telcos, we can expect to see the government pick up most of the bill.

This does still leave us with unanswered questions pertaining to APP 12. With Telstra charging a fee starting from $25 for customers to access their metadata due to no current systems in place, does that mean they could waive that fee and give customers free access to their metadata once the government has (potentially) paid for the setup costs?

Even if the government does foot the bill, we can’t see the Telcos passing up a ‘new product’ opportunity to charge for the service. And so this begs the question: if the government does pay for the setup costs, then surely they would also make it a requirement of telcos to give customers access to their metadata at no cost in order to satisfy APP 12. While APP 12 makes no mention of charging for access to personal data, we believe that your personal data is already used to generate revenue for many organisations, and that requesting access to view the data being held about you should be given at no charge.

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