Twitter promises to keep metadata for Australian law enforcement

Twitter promises to keep metadata for Australian law enforcement

Summary: Twitter has committed to keeping user metadata for Australian law enforcement agencies investigating so-called Twitter trolls.


Twitter has agreed to establish better contact with Australian law enforcement and "preserve metadata," following meetings with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) and with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) this week.

After a number of complaints from Australian celebrities over the past few weeks about so-called Twitter "trolls," Communications Minister Stephen Conroy lamented that Twitter, as a company, was "arrogant" by not residing in Australia and, therefore, not complying with Australian laws regarding making threats over services like Twitter.

"Twitter, an American company, they think they are above our laws, they think they are above laws in America," he said.

"They just believe they don't have to take any notice of the Australian public, any notice of the Australian laws, and they think they can behave this arrogantly."

Twitter's head of Global Public Policy Chris Crowell this week met with officials from DBCDE and the AFP, and agreed to work closer with Australian law enforcement in cases where violent threats have been made, and where there have been threats of self-harm.

Crowell also reassured the government that metadata would be preserved in certain cases, such as bullying, but law enforcement agencies would still be required to go through the proper legal avenues in order to obtain access to this data.

Conroy today welcomed Twitter's reassurances.

"In response to the community concern ... Twitter will ensure a much more streamlined process for law enforcement authorities investigating violent behaviour on its site," he said. "They have agreed to provide assistance to police, especially in cases investigating instances of violent threats on the site, and threats of self-harm."

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, who is spear-heading a review into Australian national security legislation that is looking at requiring internet service providers to retain as-yet-undefined metadata for up to two years, welcomed Twitter's assurances that it would retain customer data.

"When approached by police in relation to cyber-bulling, Twitter has committed to preserve key information for police, until proper legal processes are completed," she said.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Networking


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • test test test

    yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa meeeeeeeeeee
  • Conroy…

    Conroy is a hypocritical thug. He is arrogance personified and can't point to a single case of Twitter not responding to a formal request from any Australian police force. Where is his public apology to Twitter for the outlandish claims he made?
    Fred Fredrickson
    • Hypocrisy, huh?

      I'm sure that if Malcolm Turnbull had made those exact same claims, and did the exact same thing, then you'd be all enthusiastic and applauding his "bold negotiation skills".

      Regardless of who did what, this is something our society needs. Anonymity has made us arrogant, and so the only logical conclusion (besides us actually waking up to ourselves and behaving like respectable people (I know that's just a fairy tale, but anyway)) is that we all need babysitting.
  • Good decision

    It's good to hear that Twitter has decided to assist the AFP with investigations like threats and cyberbullying. Of course there has to be a legal process, but at least this decision makes things easier.

    Bullying, terrorism, and threats of violence are not needed or wanted on the Internet, or anywhere at all for that matter.
  • Good Bye Twitter!!

    Well there's the first one to cough up your privacy!

    I wonder how many more will bend to the will of this assault on our personal privacy. I for one will now pull my Twitter account.

    If you're so happy about these aspects of your personal life being made available to who knows who for who knows what, then pop your credit card statements online, pull the curtains down from your windows and really give everyone the public access the government is pushing for - better yet - why not take the local coppers with you when you go to your next doctor's appointment, or let Nanny Nicola if you're going to drink or smoke cigarettes...

    And don't forget... this is data about you that you have never been (and will probably never be) able to access. It's just so the "law enforcement" people don't have to work so hard... it leads to the ability of government to reduce it's policing force... and it leads to the government saving a bit of cash.

    If someone can provide me a clear example of how this "proposal" is supposed to work in a REAL WORLD case, then I'm happy to consider the idea. But this is no better than the "my dad died of cancer now all smokers will pay" attitude of Nanny Nicola.

    As a Labor supporter, this woman makes me sick. And I'm surprised that she'd allow herself to be the fourth AG to be pushed in this direction by the bureaucracy.
    Matt Logan