Poster Presentation, “Metadata legislation – are victims of domestic violence safe?”, Stop Domestic Violence Conference, December 2015.
With the introduction of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment
(Data Retention) Bill 2014 there came significant outcry from the community about big
brother’ watching us and concerns about invasion of privacy. Among the issues raised was the right of individuals to access information on their own account, resulting in amendments to the Bill before it was passed to allow this access.
As a result, not only can an account holder access their own metadata information, but they will have the right to access information of anyone else who uses their account, any other devices connected to that account.
Because many perpetrators of domestic violence hold accounts to which the metadata
applies, access to victim’s information is an issue. For victims of domestic violence, this
means perpetrators can track retrospectively over a 2 year period who the victim sees,
where they go, who they contacted and which numbers they called most frequently, and
The access to this information could occur even if the parties are no longer involved in a
While the legislation provides for some limited protection of data, as the legislation
currently stands, it creates a serious risk of harm to the safety of victims of domestic
There are effects of the metadata legislation, shortfalls and potential gaps,
but the consequent risk of harm can be addressed by the legislature or by domestic
violence service providers when advising clients.