Clare defends Labor backing of Australian data retention laws

Jason Clare has maintained that Labor helped 'fix' the government's data retention legislation.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare has said he understands the concern over Australia's mandatory data-retention laws, but has sidestepped questions for Labor to make changes to the scheme if elected on July 2.

Responding to questions on Reddit, Clare backed Labor handling of the laws passing parliament in March last year.

"The changes we forced the government to make mean tighter rules, and for the first time real oversight over the use and misuse of this data," Clare said.

"The original legislation that the Coalition introduced was seriously flawed and we made over 70 changes to it. One of the big changes we made was to limit the number of organisations that can now access metadata from 80 to about 20."

As a direct result of Labor's support, data retention was passed without data breach-notification laws in place, despite the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security recommending in February 2015 that Australia have such laws in place prior to the implementation phase of the data retention scheme.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus told ZDNet in April an incoming Labor government would bring on data breach-notification laws "as soon as practicable".

Mandatory data breach legislation was a Labor commitment, and it is one that we maintain," Dreyfus said.

"If elected, a Labor government would once again bring forward the legislation as soon as practicable, with the expectation of bipartisan support."

Under Australia's data-retention laws, approved law-enforcement agencies are able to warrantlessly access two years' worth of customers' call records, location information, IP addresses, billing information, and other data stored by telcos.

During his Reddit AMA session on Wednesday, Clare also said Labor has no plans to introduce an internet filter -- an issue both Labor and Liberal parties have toyed with to varying degrees in recent years.

Earlier this week, Labor said it would retain the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner in government.

The office has the role of removing online content that is deemed to be cyberbullying and developing a "cyberbullying civil notice regime", as well as dealing with complaints about offensive and illegal content.

Last week Labor announced its NBN policy, which would see a Shorten-led government phase out fibre to the node after current contracts obligations are met, and attempt to return as many as 2 million premises to fibre to the premises connections for a rise in capital costs of AU$3.4 billion and a completion date of 2022.

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