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Telstra offers opt-in customer internet tracking

Telstra's controversial cybersafety project that tracks customer internet browsing has returned, but this time it's on an opt-in basis.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

After getting caught tracking customer web browsing in June this year, Telstra has brought back the controversial cybersafety program Smart Controls, only this time customers must opt in to the project.

In June, Telstra was caught out tracking its Next G customers' web browsing, and sending that data to US-based filtering company Netsweeper to build a database of sites for a new cybersafety tool called Smart Controls. Smart Controls is designed to block certain categories of sites from appearing on Telstra mobiles whose owners have signed up for the service.

The company ceased the tracking when it was caught, but claimed that it had been removing customer information from the URL before sending that data to the United States.

Today, the company announced that it has redesigned Smart Controls as an "opt-in" product for internet browsing to be tracked for the service.

"We have now redesigned Smart Controls, so that it operates as an entirely opt-in product. Customers must opt in, and the mobile websites being classified are only from subscribers who opt in or subscribe to the service," Telstra's director of core mobile services Nick Ruddock said in a blog post.

The plan is for the product to be released in late November, but Telstra is seeking comments on the proposal beforehand.

The news comes as the Australian government is looking at requiring telecommunications companies and internet service providers (ISPs) to retain customer data for up to two years for the purposes of investigations by government agencies or law enforcement. The Attorney-General's Department has said that at this time, the data required to be kept would not include URLs.

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