Australian govt seeks more user data from Google

Google has updated its Transparency Report to cover the second half of 2015

Google has reported a significant rise in requests from Australian law enforcement agencies for data linked to users of the company’s online services.

The latest edition of Google’s Transparency Report, which tracks government requests for access to data, revealed that in the second half of 2015 Australian government agencies made 1258 requests for user data. In total those requests were linked to 1529 users or accounts.

Google said it had produced data in response to 70 per cent of those requests.

The company’s figures show a 28 per cent increase in the number of users/accounts that Australian agencies sought data about during the period compared to the first six months of 2015, and a 43 per cent increase compared to the second half of 2014.

The number of requests also climbed from 959 in the second half of 2014 and 1080 in the first half of 2015 to 1258.

Worldwide, Google also reported a climb in the number of accounts law enforcement sought data about: An 18 per cent increase compared to the first half of 2015, and a 60 per cent increase compared to the second half of 2014.

Later this year the Attorney-General’s Department will release its annual report on the operation of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, which details the use by law enforcement organisations of the TIA Act to intercept communications as well as access to so-called metadata.

This 2015-16 edition will be the first report to cover the operation of the data retention regime — the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015 — which tweaked the framework for warrant-free access to certain categories of data. The data retention scheme came into effect on 13 October 2015.

The 2013-14 TIA Act report revealed that 77 enforcement agencies had made 334,658 warrant-free authorisations to access telco data.

Although the number of organisations able seek telco data without a warrant was slashed by the data retention legislation, many of those that formerly had warrant-free access .