Brandis warns of even less privacy for Australians

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis has said that attitudes to privacy will need to be adjusted in the wake of attacks from ISIS.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor on

Islamic State has declared war and made life harder for liberal democracies, and as a consequence, Australians will have to accept further limitations on their privacy, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis said on Wednesday morning.

Asked if Australia was at war, Senator Brandis told the Nine Network: "Absolutely. ISIL have declared war on us."

"We would be fools not to take them at their word and to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our civilisation," he said.

Senator Brandis said Australians may have to "calibrate their attitudes" on privacy.

"There will be occasions in which we will have to accept greater limitations, greater impediments to personal privacy," he told the Seven Network.

Under Brandis' tenure as Attorney-General, Australia passed legislation that mandated the collection and storage of call records, assigned IP addresses, location information, billing information, and other customer data stored for two years for warrantless access by law enforcement.

As part of the data-retention regime, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security recommended that Australia have data breach notification laws in place before the end of 2015; however, Brandis admitted in October that the laws would not be passed this year.

Despite the data retention laws coming into force last month, Telstra revealed in October that it is likely one of very few telcos to have its plan for data retention implementation approved.

By October 13, Australian telecommunications companies were due to be in accordance with the law in one of three ways: by either retaining and encrypting data with a working implementation; having an approved implementation plan that dealt with areas of non-compliance; or having been granted an exception.

"We are pleased to say that Telstra is one of the few, if not only, I think, telecommunication providers that has submitted a data retention plan and had it approved by the government," Telstra chairman Catherine Livingstone said at the company's October annual general meeting.

"We are organised to do this and we will implement it over 18 months, and of course, we will work with the government following through on their undertaking to reimburse us for the costs incurred.

"We're very conscious of regulatory costs incurred, and will absolutely recover them as we can."

In an October survey released by the Communications Alliance, it was found that 84 percent of Australian telcos would not be compliant with the deadline, and 37 percent of respondents revealed that they were "not confident at all" on understanding what data the law requires them to retain and for how long.

Brandis was famously unable to clearly explain the definition of metadata in August 2014.

The Attorney-General was relieved of ministerial duties for copyright issues in a Cabinet reshuffle in September. Under Brandis, the government passed piracy site-blocking laws forcing ISPs to block websites sharing illicit TV shows, films, and music.

With AAP

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