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Racing to the data retention finish line

It’s looking highly likely that a revised version of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill will soon be passed into law. That means telecommunications companies and internet players of all shapes and sizes will be required to maintain two years’ worth of their customers’ data, including the time and place of phone calls and internet sessions.

The Internet Society of Australia is concerned. Their CEO Laurie Patton says they have volunteered to help the government work through the detail and rushing through the legislation could have unintended consequences. He says it has been drafted by lawyers who do not understand how the Internet works.

Labor is likely to support the Government in the passage of this Bill because it has been through a review process with the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). They issued 39 recommendations which have all, to some extent, now been agreed by the Attorney General and will, supposedly, be written in to the legislation.

Patrick Fair, partner at law firm Baker McKenzie has read the 39 Steps (irony alert) and reckons that, although it improves on the bill, there is still a great deal that is uncertain. One recommendation he adds is for all data access to require a warrant. He says, with or without access to content, you can build a detailed profile of someone from two years of metadata.

Sadly, it seems any attempt to change the legislation, beyond the 39 recommendations from the PJCIS, will fall on deaf ears.

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