The Australian Federal Police has backed a proposal for a controversial data retention scheme, saying captured web records would assist in prosecuting cybercriminals.
The Attorney-General's Department has investigated implementing a similar scheme to the European directive on data retention, which requires telecommunications providers to collect information on phone calls and emails, such as from whom they were sent or to whom as well as the time and date of the communication. Sources have said that the Australian version could involve keeping a record of websites visited.
The Attorney-General's Department has played-down the proposal, and refused to discuss the regime in detail.
AFP assistant commissioner and national manager of high tech crime operations, Neil Gaughan, said that the police is pushing for data retention through the Attorney-General's office and Commonwealth Government agencies.
"It is important that we have the ability to retain the data," Gaughan told reporters in Sydney today. "We can obtain intercepts ... on pretty much everything. We don't want to see what people are watching on TV, we want to see what people are looking at on the internet."
He said this includes web searches and histories.
"From an evidentiary perspective, it adds weight to our investigation process if we have evidence we are able to obtain; it is work in progress," Gaughan said, noting that police already have sufficient data to address police requirements.
"Internationally, it would be nice if we had some overarching legislation to address this regime, but we are a long way off getting there. The legislation in cyber crime does need some work."
Gaughan said that Google already supplies web search histories to police. "We have a good working relationship with industry."
He said that the government will ultimately determine the balance between privacy and needs of law enforcement.
"It is a balancing act between what the private sector would like based on cost, and what we would like to do based on history and law enforcement capabilities."