Data retention: WorkSafe Victoria seeks access to telco data

WorkSafe Victoria has confirmed that it wants to be listed as an authorised agency under Australia’s data retention regime.

The Attorney-General’s Department last week released its annual report on the use of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979.

In addition to covering the use of warrant-based interception and stored communications powers by police and anti-corruption bodies, the report also covers state, local and federal government agencies that have sought warrant-free access to telecommunications data.

In 2014-15, agencies authorised access to telco data a total of 365,728 times, the report reveals; of those, 354,841 authorisations were related to enforcing a criminal law.

Under the provisions of the TIA Act prior to the passing of the data retention legislation, any organisation that enforced a criminal law, a law imposing a pecuniary penalty or a law protecting public revenue could seek telecommunications data without a warrant.

The data retention legislation narrowed that down to state police forces, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission, a number of anti-corruption organisations such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Police Integrity Commission, and a handful of other organisations including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

However, there is a provision for the list to be expanded either temporarily by the attorney-general or permanently by parliament.

The legislation creating the Australian Border Force added it to the list of authorised agencies.

A number of organisations have already approached the government seeking to be made an authorised agency.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority confirmed to Computerworld Australia that it has applied for ongoing warrant-less access to telecommunications data.

Victoria is pushing for the state's Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner to become an authorised agency.

“WorkSafe has applied to be an authorised agency under the new rules,” a WorkSafe Victoria spokesperson said.

The latest TIA Act report revealed that WorkSafe sought telco data on 41 occasions in 2014-15 (up from 25 in the prior year).

The authorisations in 2014-15 related to the enforcement of a criminal law.

“On rare occasions, WorkSafe may use telecommunications data in order to investigate a specific allegation that a breach of occupational health and safety or workers compensation legislation may have occurred,” the spokesperson said.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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