Welp, The Government Has Already Allowed A Major Metadata Breach

Fucken hell this didn’t take long at all.

The Australian Federal Police today confirmed that a serious breach of metadata has already occurred, thanks to the failing of one of the processes that the AFP and Government officials previously asserted were sound.
The AFP revealed today that an investigator accessed the phone records of a journalist earlier this year without gaining the proper warrants and legal clearance beforehand. This represents a massive failure of the metadata laws and practices, and precisely the kind of realised fear that ardent critics of the mandatory retention of metadata raised in the lead-up to the regime’s implementation.
Under the current laws and structures, journalists metadata cannot be freely accessed by authorities without first obtaining official warrants to do so. Not only did the AFP today confirm that that had happened, but they inferred that it was due to the unnamed investigator simply not knowing that that was what the process was. That is terrifying, frankly.
AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin fronted media today to both reveal the breach and attempt to explain it. He stated that the investigator was attempting to access the call records to discover the identity of a source used by the journalists.
Colvin was quick to stress that the metadata only includes the details of the call – number, time, location, etc – and not the content of the call itself.

“What was accessed was the records of calls, not the content of those calls. Just the fact of the existence of the calls in the first place.”

“A result of this matter and as a result of us identifying this breach, we have been reviewing our internal practices and procedures to make sure they are as robust as possible.”

Shockingly, the AFP asserted that due to the investigation being “on-going,” the journalist whose metadata was improperly and illegally accessed has not been notified, nor has the AFP investigator who illegally accessed it been disciplined in any way.

Colvin stated that it was “extremely rare” that they would be interested in a journalist’s metadata, which to be blunt makes a breach of process in this instance all the more unbelievable and worrying.
It’s a situation that defies belief in how succinctly it mimics fears expressed by those opposed to metadata retention in the first place. And the idea that the AFP is readily – and with such a cavalier attitude – breaching their own processes to identify the source of a journalist’s source, without informing the journalist when they fuck up no less, is supremely worrying.
Journalists and media personnel have been expressing concern over the development on social media since the press conference a short time ago, but perhaps it’s none better summed up than this concise tweet:

And yet, Colvin insists that the public should have “full confidence” in the robustness of the scheme.

We reiterate: Holy shit.

Source: ABC News.