Northern Territory Police wants ISPs to keep users' internet history

The Northern Territory Police want internet service providers to retain customers' web-browsing history for two years as part of a broader data retention regime
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The Northern Territory Police have called for internet service providers to be forced to retain the web-browsing history of all of its customers as part of a mandatory two-year data retention regime.

The police force made the recommendation in a submission to Greens Senator Scott Ludlam's committee review of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act that was commenced in December last year.

The review is being conducted while the Commonwealth Government has yet to respond to a parliamentary report last year that said it was up to the government to determine whether telcos should be required to retain customer billing data — such as physical location, IP address, phone number, and time of call — for up to two years.

In the submission, the NT Police went further than any other law enforcement agency that spoke to the parliamentary committee as part of the report, and said that in addition to the so-called metadata, the NT Police would like to access internet browsing history under the system without obtaining a warrant.

"The NT Police are supportive of a data retention regime of two years. Such a regime would assist law enforcement agencies in investigating serious crimes. The NT Police are not in favour of excluding browser history," the NT Police said.

"This is inconsistent with the spirit of a revised Act being technology neutral. With the shift from traditional telephony services to IP-based services communications taken place on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and other IP platforms, this data may be included in browser history, and is important to capture as telephone records for law enforcement purposes."

In 2012, the Australian Federal Police, Australia's top law enforcement agency, was forced to deny that it was seeking web browsing history as part of its own data retention proposal, and instead just an "internet identifier" such as an IP address.

Attorney-General's Department secretary Roger Wilkins said that the proposed model put together by the department did not include web browsing history because that would be considered content which would require the law enforcement agency to get a warrant.

Then-Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis said that it needed to be made clear in the proposal that web browsing would not be included in the government's data retention proposal.

"What this committee wants is a clear statement that reassures us that insofar as internet metadata is sought to be retained, there is no way either directly or incidentally that the retention of that internet metadata will enable content to be retained," he said at the time.

Ludlam told ZDNet last week that the committee reviewing the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act is unlikely to hold a hearing prior to the WA Senate by-election on April 5 that will ultimately determine whether Ludlam is returned to the Australian Parliament.

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