Aviation safety body applies for 'metadata' access

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has confirmed it has applied for ongoing warrant-less access to telecommunications ‘metadata’ under rules introduced by the data retention legislation.

CASA is in charge of Australian aviation safety regulation.

The latest annual report issued by the Attorney-General’s on the use of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 revealed that CASA accessed telco metadata 11 times in the last financial year.

“CASA sometimes accesses telecommunications data when it conducts an investigation into whether a person contravened a criminal offence provision in the aviation legislation,” a spokesperson for the organisation said.

CASA was one of the 83 organisations that accessed so-called metadata during the 12 months to 30 June 2015.

In 2014-15, agencies authorised access to telco ‘metadata’ a total of 365,728 times, the report from the Attorney-General’s Department revealed.

The data retention legislation passed earlier this year pared back the number of organisations able to gain warrant-free access to metadata.

The new regime kicked in on 13 October.

The legislation initially restricted access to police and anti-corruption organisations, customs, the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

There is provision for further organisations to be authorised, however, and the Australian Border Force has been added to the list.

The Victorian government recently revealed that it has sought metadata access for the state’s Racing Integrity Commissioner.

A parliamentary inquiry earlier this year recommended that the Australian Taxation Office be added to the list of authorised organisations.

CASA said it is also seeking access.

“Following the making of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015, CASA applied to the Attorney-General’s Department for ongoing direct access to telecommunications data,” the organisation’s spokesperson said.

The government won’t reveal which organisations or the total number to have applied to be authorised to access metadata.

However, an in-progress freedom of information request has revealed that the number is likely to be greater than 40.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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