The govt's data retention dreams revealed

The govt's data retention dreams revealed

Summary: The Attorney-General's Department is looking into a data retention regime that would require internet service providers (ISPs) to log all of your communications, including the internet protocol (IP) address at each end, the date, time, duration and location. What, exactly, is on their mind? And how did this come about?

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The Attorney-General's Department is looking into a data retention regime that would require internet service providers (ISPs) to log all of your communications, including the internet protocol (IP) address at each end, the date, time, duration and location. What, exactly, is on their mind? And how did this come about?

It was revealed in June that the government had been consulting with industry bodies — in secret. In a previous episode of Patch Monday we discussed what a data retention system might entail if it were modelled on the controversial European Directive on Data Retention.

On Friday, the Senate Inquiry into "The adequacy of protections for the privacy of Australians online" finally dug out the details.

Representatives from the department insisted that nobody would be getting new powers. Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan reckons it's just preserving the status quo in the new digital world. And yet Greens Senator Scott Ludlam was clearly unimpressed with the lack of public consultation and with the department's representatives being unable to say exactly who'd got the ball rolling in the first place.

In Patch Monday this week we bring you the highlights of evidence given to the Senate committee — including Senator Ludlam's sustained questioning. It's the first definitive explanation of what the Attorney-General's Department is thinking.

Stilgherrian also takes his usual random look at the week's IT news.

To leave an audio comment for Patch Monday, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Running time: 28 minutes, 18 seconds

Topics: Government, Government AU, Privacy, Security, Telcos

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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3 comments
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  • Data retention by an ISP is idiotic. It's mandating that private companies hold huge volumes of data, which thus places it under the Privacy Act, so some unidentified 'government officials' can go through it...should some unindentified need occur.

    Just what are the government trying to achieve, just who pays for this data collection, who has access to it, and why?

    In the last few years the government has taken a decidedly nasty 'Big Brother' approach to any and all data. I'm not sure why this has been done or what it's supposed to achieve but it definitely appears to be heading down a dark and dangerous road for the rights of individuals.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • It was refreshing to hear the data retention issue receiving such informed and focused attention from the Senate Inquiry. This seems horribly reminiscent of the UK's Interception Modernisation Programme proposed then abandoned by the UK's previous Labour govt. Never fear, the bureaucrats have captured the new Coalition govt and the IMP is back as govt policy again in the UK.

    What lessons are there in this for Australia? Back in 2009 there was significant debate about issues surrounding civil liberties, technical feasibility and cost. Try reading this briefing paper from the London School of Economics: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/informationSystems/research/policyEngagement/IMP_Briefing.pdf
    blinkingbee
  • This week's podcast was particularly timely given the revelations about child neglect in last night's 4 Corners. Child abuse by the dreaded pornographers gets lots of publicity and resources. Meanwhile whatever common or garden child neglect gets does not seem to be enough.

    Law enforcers in its comfortable offices harvest gigabytes of data against everyone, yet when a member of the public hands intelligence to the authorities on a platter, the neglect continues.

    Why are these two issues not seen as one and the data gathering and remedial action given equal weight?
    Listohan