Australian Federal Court rules on what aspects of metadata are deemed ‘personal information’
ALL YOUR METAS ARE BELONG TO US.
A landmark ruling delivered recently by the Australian Federal Court has redefined ‘personal information’ or metadata collected by telcos under Australia’s mandatory data retention policy. This information includes the location, timing, destination and duration of calls and texts, IP addresses, URLs visited and geolocation. According to the court, data is ‘personal’ if an individual is the actual subject of that information — meaning browsing history, IP address and location are not protected by Australian privacy laws as they relate to the communications services, not the person. This was the end of an ongoing battle between the Australian Privacy Commissioner and Telstra after journalist Ben Grubb asked the telco for his personal information. Thwarted by the telco’s privacy department, Grubb took the complaint to the Commissioner who supported the journo. Telstra appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, where the telco emerged victorious. The Privacy Commissioner then took the matter to court, where his efforts in having everything that could be used to identify an individual be protected by the Privacy Act finally came to a halt.