Telstra will give you your metadata

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Australia’s biggest telco will give its customers the same access to metadata that government and security agencies will have under its controversial new data retention laws.

Telstra chief risk officer Kate Hughes said the option to request additional information it holds on customers will be available from 1 April, 2015.

“We believe that if the police can ask for information relating to you, you should be able to as well,” Hughes said on Telstra’s Exchange blog.

Requests for data beyond what is already available on customers MyAccount pages will be subject to a cost recovery fee. Simple requests are expected to cost around $25, while detailed requests covering multiple services across several years 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 said.

The parliamentary inquiry into the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014, released last week, called for the government “to make clear that individuals have the right to access their personal telecommunications data retained by a service provider under the data retention regime”.

Telstra says data provided will be limited to information associated with that person’s account. Information about another party will not be provided, such as who called you.

The government’s metadata legislation looks set to pass through parliament after Labor agreed to support the bill with some minor amendments. Under the new laws communication companies will be forced to store metadata for a minimum of two years.

Here’s Telstra’s definition of metadata:

Metadata is the data generated when you use a telecommunications service – information such as the number you called, when you called and how long you spoke for. It does not include the content of a communication, such as the detail of what you said or wrote in an email or SMS. The police and other enforcement agencies can access metadata under law without a warrant.

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