Telstra, metadata, and the power of APP 12

David Wilson - Mar 12, 2015

We recently read in the media that a technology reporter has finally (after 20 months) won the right to receive access to their metadata as per APP 12. The telco in question was Telstra and the beauty of APP 12 is that it’s very clear – when an individual requests their personal information, the organisation must give access to this information held about them.

While the metadata requested pertains to call logs and geo-location based on cell towers used, it cannot provide any further information about the correspondence the individual may have had with others, in order to protect their privacy as well. So why did it take 20 months when APP 12 is so black and white? Most likely Telstra did not want to set a precedence moving forward given that it would have been a costly and timely exercise, due to the fact that such requests have historically only come from law enforcement agencies. While Telstra can fulfil law enforcement requests here and there, if say 10,000 customers requested access to their metadata, the process could get very expensive for Telstra. Telstra has stated that it is now happy to send send some metadata however starting at $25 for basic data or more for more specific requests. Unfortunately APP 12 makes no mention of charging for access to the data, so we do hope that Telstra isn’t using fees as a deterrent.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Abbott government is also putting the pressure on telcos as it pushes to pass it’s upcoming data retention laws that would see telcos forced to store customer metadata for 2 years so that they could be accessed by law enforcement agencies.

If telcos are forced to invest the hundreds of millions in order to create the systems to retain the metadata should the government request it, then the road just got a lot easier for the customers seeking the very same.

Click here to read the original news story by SMH.

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