Telstra Customers Can Access Metadata for the Same Fee as Law Enforcement

Says "cost-recovery" fees necessary in new transparency push

Chris Burt

March 27, 2015

2 Min Read
Telstra Customers Can Access Metadata for the Same Fee as Law Enforcement



This article originally appeared at The WHIR

Telstra will let customers pay to access their own metadata as part of its ongoing efforts to improve transparency about what information is tracked and provided to law enforcement agencies without warrants. Australia’s largest telecom, the company revealed the new policy in a blog post by Chief Risk Officer Kate Hughes.

A form will be made available to customers starting April 1st through Telstra’s Privacy Portal, which will allow simple requests to be made and processed for “around $25.” Requests covering multiple services or extended periods “will be charged at an hourly rate.”

“This is the same practice of cost recovery that is applied to requests from law enforcement agencies,” Hughes says.

Telstra published its first ever transparency report in March 2014, and has also posted information on metadata and its corporate responsibilities to law enforcement.

The company presumably hopes to restore customer trust by “offering the same access to a customer’s own metadata as we are required to offer to law enforcement agencies.”

“This new approach is all about giving you a clearer picture of the data we provide in response to lawful requests today” Hughes says. “As new technologies evolve and data management practices change (including potentially through the introduction of a data retention regime), we see this principle as continuing to apply.”

According to The Register, the new measures indicate that Telstra’s metadata retention efforts are “well advanced,” and the use of the word “data” rather than “metadata” in some cases may indicate uncertainty (or worse; an admission) about what personal records can reveal.

Australia’s Privacy Act also contains stipulations that individuals must be allowed access to personal information companies keep about them, so the new policy may be motivated by compliance, The Register notes.

Telstra is rumoured to be considering acquiring Pacnet. Acquiring Pacnet, with its network of undersea cables and data center business, would give Telstra a lot more personal data to manage, and more international considerations.

While Telstra was well behind many companies in issuing transparency reports, it may be pushing the transparency envelope by granting the same privileges to customers as law enforcement has. Some may disagree, such as fans of Swedish ISP Bahnhof, which simply stopped retaining some customer metadata before being threatened with a fine in October.

Dutch court threw out ISPs’ legal requirement to retain metadata earlier in the month.

This article originally appeared at

Subscribe to the Data Center Knowledge Newsletter
Get analysis and expert insight on the latest in data center business and technology delivered to your inbox daily.

You May Also Like