The many, many government agencies requesting warrantless data access

On FreedomWatch last year, Chris Berg said this:

Under the data retention bill passed earlier this year, the number of agencies with access had been strictly limited to criminal law enforcement agencies. As the IPA argued at the time, this was almost certain not to last – regulators across the country have been chomping at the bit for years to get a hold of our internet records, and it would be trivially easy for this or future governments to quietly reinstate these agencies into the data retention scheme.

And those regulators have wasted no time in requesting to be given this access. According to information released under freedom of information laws, an extraordinary 61 agencies have already sought authorisation to access telecommunications data held under the federal government’s 2015 mandatory data retention laws.

You can see the full list here.

We are seeing now how this legislation highlights the expansive nature of the modern government. You might be aware that the state and federal governments have created a plethora of bodies with dubious public benefit. For example. the various state governments bodies specifically dedicated to regulating greyhound and harness racing, or the Commonwealth’s National Measurement Institute, which exists to maintain “Australia’s units and standards of measurement”. What you might not have known is that these bodies (and even non-government entities, such as the RSPCA) have decided that they need warrantless data access to carry out their work.

For many of these agencies, that can hardly be the case. Can you imagine what laws the NMI enforces that would require data access at all?

If these agencies need access to data, they should be told to get a warrant.


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