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Access to telecommunications data in civil proceedings

Consultation

Closing date

In 2017, a public discussion paper was released, seeking the views of stakeholders with an interest in the civil justice system and privacy in regards to access to telecommunications data in civil proceedings.  Submissions for this consultation closed on Friday, 27 January 2017.

In particular, the Department of Communications and the Arts and the Attorney-General’s Department were interested in views about the following.

For the data set outlined in section 187AA of the TIA Act,

  • in what circumstances do parties to civil proceedings currently request access to telecommunications data?
  • what, if any, impact would there be on civil proceedings if parties were unable to access the telecommunications data? 

Are there particular kinds of civil proceedings or circumstances in which the prohibition in section 280(1B) of the Telecommunications Act 1997 should not apply?

Consultation paper

Consultation Paper – Access to Retained Data in Civil Proceedings

Consultation
In 2017, the - Access to retained data in civil proceedings - consultation paper was released.  The review considered whether data retained solely for the purposes of the data retention scheme should be available for use in the civil justice system, and if so, in what circumstances.

Submissions

The Department of Communications and the Arts and the Attorney-General's Department received submissions in response to a public discussion paper from 262 individuals and organisations.

Submissions received for the Access to telecommunications data in civil proceedings consultation

Submission
The Department of Communications and the Arts and the Attorney-General's Department received submissions in response to the public discussion paper from 262 individuals and organisations.

Outcomes

On 13 April 2017, the Government tabled a report in Parliament outlining the outcomes of a review of the restriction on civil litigant access to telecommunications data retained under the data retention scheme.  The tabling of the report is in accordance with the Government's response to a recommendation of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Review findings

The review considered whether data retained solely for the purposes of the data retention scheme should be available for use in the civil justice system, and if so, in what circumstances.

The review concluded that sufficient evidence had not been received to sustain a recommendation that regulations be made to allow civil litigants to access the data. The Government will therefore not be making regulations to increase civil litigant access to retained data at this time. Civil litigants will still be able to access data that is not retained solely for purposes of the data retention scheme.

In reaching this conclusion, the review considered evidence about the use of telecommunications data in the civil justice system, the privacy of communications and the regulatory burden on the telecommunications industry.

Review of whether there should be exceptions to the prohibition on civil litigant access to retained telecommunications data

Consultation
In 2017, the review outcomes were published into whether regulations should be made to create exceptions to the prohibition on civil litigants accessing telecommunications data retained solely for the purpose of the mandatory data retention scheme.

Contact details

Communications Security Branch
Attorney-General’s Department
3-5 National Circuit, BARTON ACT 2600
CommunicationsSecurity@ag.gov.au

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