ACT fears metadata evidence ban could have 'catastrophic' consequences

ACT fears metadata evidence ban could have 'catastrophic' consequences
  1. ACT fears metadata evidence ban could have 'catastrophic' consequences
    Ban on metadata being used in family violence civil proceedings could have potentially "catastrophic"…

A federal government ban on retained phone and internet records being used as evidence in family violence civil proceedings has been warned to have potentially "catastrophic" consequences.

Legislation requires telecommunications companies to keep data for at least two years.

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The federal government has ruled out allowing retained metadata to be used in civil litigation. The federal government has ruled out allowing retained metadata to be used in civil litigation. Photo: Luca Pierro

Law enforcement and security agencies are able to access the data under strict controls and use it in criminal proceedings, but the government has ruled out allowing admission in civil cases following a review which considered more than 260 submissions.

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis said the review had found there was insufficient reason to justify making exceptions.

The ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate submission asked for exceptions to be made in "serious civil proceedings".

The directorate said communications records had been subpoenaed previously in domestic violence matters, coronial inquests and workers' compensation cases involving bullying.


The ACT submission argued the impact of prohibition in some civil proceedings could be catastrophic.

"The rationale ... is that these types of proceedings can lead to criminal sanctions and the behaviour of concern is often akin to, or overlaps with, criminal conduct [eg stalking, harassment]," the directorate said.

"Family and children's safety is supported through the protection order process, which relies on the ability of the system to make fully informed assessments of risks."

The directorate said there were sometimes related civil and criminal proceedings where inconsistent evidentiary rules …

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