AFP's foreign metadata disclosures dip

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AFP's foreign metadata disclosures dip

New figures revealed in quick succession.

The Australian Federal Police disclosed the telecommunications metadata of 13 people - including two Australian citizens - to foreign law enforcement agencies in the most recent financial year.

New figures released over the weekend by the Attorney-General’s Department show the number of authorisations for access to telecommunications metadata for foreign law enforcement purposes fell between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The government has only had to report on how much it shares for the purpose of foreign law enforcement since 2012.

Under section 180A of the Telecommunications (Interceptions and Access) Act, the AFP can authorise “access to telecommunications data for the enforcement of the criminal law of a foreign country”. It can also additionally disclose the data or documents this to a foreign law enforcement agency.

The government only released 2015-16 figures back in mid-August, but has now provided the 2016-17 figures, well ahead of the usual reporting cycle.

“In 2016–17, the AFP made 42 data authorisations under section 180A(2) for access to telecommunications data for the enforcement of the criminal law of a foreign country,” the A-G’s department said.

“Following these requests, the AFP made 15 disclosures under section 180A(4) to
foreign law enforcement agencies.”

The 15 metadata disclosures were made to 10 foreign law enforcement agencies, and affected 13 people, including two Australian citizens.

The number of people affected may be slightly higher as in one case, the metadata did not reveal an obvious “connection between an account and entity/person”.

When authorisations to access data were first disclosed in 2012-13, there were four instances, of which one was also then forwarded to foreign law enforcement.

The numbers have risen over the years, peaking in 2015-16 when there were 53 data authorisations and 23 disclosures.

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