ASIC say it needs access to private telecommunications to function properly.

The Federal Government’s metadata retention bill passed after mild opposition in the Senate last night, allowing the financial regulator to continue keeping tabs on people seeking to manipulate market and engage in insider trading.

Writing for the Australian Financial Review this week, ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer said it is vital that the agency keeps its access to metadata up to date.

He claimed advanced surveillance such as metadata tracking was the only way to stay on top of dodgy conduct.

“We have many tools at our disposal to confront this conduct – we have the people, we have the technology and we have our compulsory powers. And increasingly, telecommunications information is central in bringing inside traders to justice,” Mr Tanzer wrote.

He said the regulator had used telecoms information in high-profile inside trading cases, such as this week's Kamay and Hill case, the recent Genetic Technologies matter and UCL Resources case.

“In fact, in the two years to November 2014 ASIC used telecoms data in more than 80 per cent of our insider trading cases,” Tanzer wrote.

“This sort of information is commonly the first source of important information for further investigations and is frequently used to identify suspected offenders or verify preliminary suspicions. Without this data many offences and offenders would never be detected, and investigations would be prematurely discontinued due to lack of evidence.

“This data is an essential, ongoing source of intelligence and evidence during ASIC investigations and in subsequent proceedings. In particular, it is often important to make connections, show relationships and prove communications happened, especially when you do not know the content of those communications.

“And telecoms data is also essential in working out which people should be excluded from investigations.

“These white collar crimes are notoriously difficult to prove and can cause immense harm to Australia's financial system, including damaging the integrity of our financial markets and devastating victims who risk losing their homes and life savings,” Mr Tanzer wrote.