Answering Your Questions on Meta Data

What is metadata?

Meta data can be easily summed up as the Who, the When, the Where.

Metadata or Telecommunications data falls into two categories;

1- Information that allows communication to occur;

• A mobile service
• An internet identifier
• An email address
• A mobile number
• The time and date of communication
• General location information
• Duration of communication

2- Information about the parties to the communications;
• Name of the customer
• Address of the customer
• Postal and billing address (if different)
• Contact details

What is NOT metadata?
Metadata is not the content of your communications;

NOT any of the following–

• A subject line in an email
• A phone call discussion
• The content of the discussion
• In a chat room online
• The content of a text message
• Attachments to emails
• Web camera transmissions
• Browsing history
• Name of websites visited
• Substance of social media posts


Telecommunications data has been used in 92% of counterterrorism investigations, 100% of cybercrime investigations, 87% of child protection investigations and 79% of serious organised crime investigations.

Confirmed by AFP Commissioner, Andrew Colvin, in a comittee hearing, 17 December 2014


Why is data retention necessary?

Labor believes that our law enforcement and national security agencies should have the powers they need to protect Australians from the threats of crime and terrorism.


Labor has been consistent in our belief that we must strike the right balance between keeping people safe and protecting the rights and liberties we value as Australians.



Why did Labor support the Bill?

Private companies have been retaining very large volumes of metadata in a largely unregulated manner for many years. This data has been accessed by many dozens of Federal and State/Territory agencies including and local Councils hundreds of thousands of times each year, with insufficient safeguards to protect personal privacy. Labor approached the bill as an opportunity to regulate and improve the use of data for law enforcement and counter-terrorism purposes, while at the same time introducing safeguards that will greatly improve the transparency and accountability of storage and access to that data.

Who has access to your meta data?
Only agencies that have a clear need for such access and well-developed internal systems for protecting privacy, such as law enforcement and intelligence agencies will be able to access the data. Data must be reasonably necessary for the purposes of investigating criminal offences and other permitted purposes.

Will the cost of data retention be passed on to consumers?
The Government will be making reasonable contributions to the capital costs of implementation of the data retention regime.