October 16, 2021

It’s official, Australians: The government gets to keep your data for longer

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australiadataBy Jenni Ryall From Mashable

Australian telecommunication and Internet companies will be required to keep the data of Australians for two years by law.

Late Thursday evening, the Australian Senate passed Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill, despite widespread criticism, enabling government agencies access to two years worth of your metadata without a warrant.

Metadata normally includes call records, the location of devices, IP addresses and personal information such as your email address and home address. The term has not been defined in the current legislation, but is believed to not include content of messages or emails.

The data of Australians has always been accessible without a warrant, but the amount of data collected by telecommunication and Internet companies has not been this detailed and did not extend for two years. The new laws will increase the pool of data for authorities to dive into.

Concerns regarding the retention of metadata have been raised by industry experts and Australian ISPs, with iiNet stating metadata can be put together to provide much more detail than content. “It is misleading to assert such data is ‘only’ metadata or ‘just’ metadata. Metadata reveals even more about an individual than the content itself,” iiNet wrote in a paper in July 2014.

In submissions put to Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, experts called for the Government to change the proposed law to include a definition of metadata, list the enforcement agencies that will be able to access the data and put in place privacy safeguards. They believe without these changes, the personal privacy of Australians will be compromised.

The cost of the scheme has also not been detailed, with fears the huge cost to ISPs and telecommunication companies — expected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars — will be passed on to consumers.

Despite many serious concerns and strong opposition by Greens and Independent Senators, the bill passed Senate 43-16 due to both major parties coming to the table. The government has been pushing for the law, underpinning its reasoning with the threat of terrorism and the need for further national security safeguards.

“Metadata is the basic building block in nearly every counter-terrorism, counter-espionage and organised crime investigation,” Attorney General George Brandis said after the decision. The Greens called it a “surveillance tax” and vowed to fight for a repeal.

“The Labor Party caved into the Abbott Government and as a result, all 23 million of us here in Australia are now effectively under surveillance,” Greens Communication spokesman Sen. Scott Ludlam said, according to the ABC.

The passing of the law followed a backroom deal on Mar. 14 by the Labor opposition party and the Liberal-National government, which saw amendments made in relation to the monitoring of journalists. The changes included a government “Public Interest Advocate,” who makes decisions regarding whether the need to capture a journalist’s data outweighs public interest, and authorities requiring a warrant to access a journalist’s data.

Telecommunication and Internet companies have 18 months to implement the new laws, while Australians have 18 months to come to terms with the government watching their every step.

Unless, of course, you take Communication Minister Malcolm Turbull’s advice and use over-the-top apps to prevent his government tracking you. Turnbull spoke to Sky News about using Skype, Facebook and Wickr to avoid the government’s eagle eye.


For more on this story go to: http://mashable.com/2015/03/26/metadata-laws-australia/?utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedburner&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

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