Data retention should stretch to seven years, Queensland Police says

The Queensland Police Service says that there is a case for extending from 24 months to seven years the length that telcos need to retain ‘metadata’ to comply with Australia’s data retention regime.

The data retention regime is currently subject to statutory review by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). In a submission to the committee’s inquiry, QPS states that in its view the current dataset that telcos must retain to comply with the data retention regime is appropriate.

That data (sometimes described by the government as ‘metadata’ or ‘historical telecommunications data’) covers a range of information about communications, but not the ‘contents’ of the communication (e.g. the words spoken during a call or the body of an email). It includes a range of subscriber and device details as well as the source, destination, timing and duration of a communication, and the location of equipment used for the communication.

QPS said that a review of its 2017-18 activity revealed that in less than 6 per cent of the times that it sought access to metadata, the data involved was over 24 months old.

On the vast majority of occasions the data sought was 0-3 months old, QPS said. However, “despite the relatively small number” of occasions where the data sought was more than 24 months old “they nevertheless form a vital part of some notable investigations in this State”.

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