The Australian Federal Police have this afternoon admitted to accessing a journalist’s metadata without a warrant. It is less than a year since data retention scheme went live, with all Australian individuals and businesses communications metadata now saved by communications providers. The Pirate Party has warned of this exact scenario occurring since the metadata collection scheme was proposed. It should come as no surprise to anyone with a grain of foresight that this would occur.
“When people campaigning against data retention said ‘get a warrant’, they meant it” said Michael Keating, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia. “Our fears that anyone with access to the data retention system could access metadata without needing a warrant were not unfounded, and the AFP have confirmed our position as being correct. Setting up a mass surveillance system was always going to lead to egregious breaches in privacy and we only know about this one because the victim was a journalist.”
“What this breach has made clear is that there are no mechanisms in place to deal with failures in the data retention scheme. The victim of the breach has not been notified and to add insult to injury, the AFP have played down the breach by saying “the contents of the call were not accessed,” he continued.
“The AFP clearly do not understand the damage to the privacy of Australian citizens that every improper access to their data brings. They, and indeed any organisation that can access metadata records, should not be trusted with accessing records without a warrant. It should not take a failure of process to prevent individuals privacy from being breached,” Mr Keating said.
“The Pirate Party is committed to repealing the data retention system. It removes Australians’ right to privacy, as the AFP have shown they can access what they like, when they like. Journalists should be asking a lot of questions about this breach. Every individual should be questioning their local member as to their right to privacy” he concluded.
The Pirate Party urges Australians to contact their local member and tell them warrantless access of their metadata is simply unacceptable. The Pirate Party re-affirms its stance to protecting privacy in Australia.