Who can access your data?

Telecommunications industry group Communications Alliance has published a list of the organisations that can access your metadata under the guise of preventing criminal activity.

Put simply, metadata is data that describes and gives information about other data.

Phone metadata refers to information about a phone call, such as when it was made, whom it was made to and from, where it was made and how long it lasted.

Internet metadata is a more complicated area, which has been anything but clarified by our politicians. It typically relates to similar information, such as what website a person accessed, for how long, where they accessed it from and any online aliases they may use.

Dozens of state and federal departments and agencies are qualified for warrant-free access to your metadata and information kept by telcos and internet providers, since the 2015 legislation that introduced the data retention regime was implemented.

However, Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton said that there has been “some authority creep, I guess you might call it, in the period since the data retention regime came into place”, he said, referring to the increasing number of organisations that have requested data access.

Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act requires telcos to “give officers and authorities of the Commonwealth and of the states and territories such help as is reasonably necessary” for “enforcing the criminal law and laws imposing pecuniary penalties”, “assisting the enforcement of the criminal laws in force in a foreign country”, “protecting the public revenue”, and “safeguarding national security”.

However, in addition to police agencies and other organisations listed in the data retention legislation, organisations such as Centrelink, the Australian Taxation Office, Australia Post’s Corporate Security Group, Workplace Health and Safety, Work Safe Victoria, the Taxi Services Commission and a number of local councils also now have access to information about your phone and internet activity.

The following is the full list published by Communications Alliance:

  • Australian Crime Commission

  • Australian Border Force


  • AFP

  • AFP ACT Policing

  • AFP Professional Standards

  • AFSA

  • ASIC

  • Australian Tax Office

  • Australia Post Corporate Security Group

  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

  • Bankstown City Council

  • Brisbane City Council

  • Centrelink

  • Consumer & Business Affairs – Vic

  • Corrections Intelligence Group – NSW

  • Crime and Misconduct Commission

  • Customs

  • Department of Agriculture

  • Department of Defence

  • Department of Environment and Conservation WA

  • Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources

  • Department of Immigration and Border Protection

  • Dept Fair Trading NSW

  • Dept Fair Trading – Brisbane

  • Dept of Commerce WA

  • Dept of Families, Housing Community Services

  • DIBP Brisbane

  • DIBP Canberra

  • DIBP Melbourne

  • DIBP Qld

  • DIBP Sydney

  • FACS

  • Fairfield City Council

  • Fair Work Building and Construction

  • Healthcare Complaints Commissions

  • IBAC

  • ICAC Sydney

  • NSW CC


  • NSW Office of State Revenue

  • NSW Police

  • NSW Police Professional Standards

  • NSW Government Trade, Investment, Resources and Energy

  • NT Police


  • Office of Environment & Heritage

  • Office of State Revenue NSW

  • Police Integrity Commission – NSW

  • Primary Industries and Resources SA

  • Primary Industries NSW

  • Primary Industries Qld

  • Primary Industries Vic

  • Qld Department of Fair Trading

  • Qld Transport

  • Queensland Police Service

  • Racing Integrity Vic

  • Regional Illegal Dumping Squad

  • Rockdale City Council

  • SA Fisheries


  • SA Police Anti-Corruption

  • SA Police Internal Investigation Branch

  • SA Police State Intelligence

  • Tas Police

  • Tas Police Internal Investigations

  • Taxi Services Commission

  • Transport Accident Commission Melbourne

  • Vic Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

  • Vic Department of Justice

  • Vic Department of Health and Human Services

  • Vic Police Ethical Standards

  • Vic Institute of Teaching

  • Vic Police

  • Vic Sheriff’s Offices

  • WA CCC

  • WA Department of Fair Trading

  • WA Fisheries

  • WA Police State Intelligence Division

  • Work Safe Vic

  • Workplace Health & Safety


Read more at Computerworld

Were you aware that all of these organisations have access to your data? Of these organisations, which do you think are over-reaching with their authority?

Related articles:
Government wants to access your phone
Keep your metadata private
How to turn off your spying tech

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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