Twitter promises to keep metadata for Australian law enforcement

Twitter has committed to keeping user metadata for Australian law enforcement agencies investigating so-called Twitter trolls.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

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.

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