Telstra wins legal battle over metadata

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 20 January, 2017

Telstra wins legal battle over metadata

Telstra has prevailed in a legal battle that would have required the operator to hand over significant amounts of customer data when requested by that customer.

The Full Federal Court has dismissed an appeal filed by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) challenging a decision in Telstra’s favour by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Telstra had filed the challenge after the OAIC ordered Telstra to comply with a request by former Fairfax journalist Ben Grubb to supply him with all data linked to his account, including metadata including mobile tower logs, inbound call and text details and the URLs of websites visited.

At the time, much of the data requested by Grubb was available warrant-free to law enforcement agencies when requested for investigative purposes. Some of the data is also available warrant-free under the current data retention regime.

The OAIC took Grubb’s side and ordered Telstra to supply the requested information under the National Privacy Principles, which require organisations to provide the information they hold about individuals if those individuals request it.

But Telstra challenged the order on the grounds that much of the data requested does not constitute personal information under Australia’s privacy legislation.

The tribunal agreed with Telstra’s contention, and now the Federal Court has upheld this decision.

In a terse statement, the OAIC said it is “currently considering the decision and has no further comment at this time”.

Image courtesy of Karl Baron under CC.

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