Data Retention Laws Will Pass Parliament, As Labor Gives In

The Labor Party has agreed to support the controversial data retention scheme currently before Parliament, and that means that the legislation that retains a huge amount of your metadata for a period of two years, whether you are suspected of any crime or not, will go ahead largely unquestioned.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the bipartisan support — with Labor's newly confirmed backing — will be announced at the tabling of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security report into the legislation, predicted to be put before Parliament today.

That report will show the Labor Party marching in lockstep with the Liberal Party on the topic of data retention, although the SMH report notes the broadly liberal Labor has called for some amendments throughout the review process. Despite those amendments, both parties are in agreement on the salient points of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014.

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The bill will see Australians' metadata retained for a period of two years, although the exact scope of the program is still shrouded in mystery. The Australian public still doesn't know, and likely won't know, exactly how much information on their landline, mobile phone and Internet browsing activities and habits will be caught by the scheme. Metadata is a broad term that includes information as basic as the date, time and duration of a telephone conversation but can be as granular as the exact GPS coordinates of a smartphone making a Web request. This is all information that is transmitted via data networks every day, but it is transitory; ISPs currently do not store data to anywhere near the extent likely required the by the bill.

The data retention legislation will come at a cost of multiple hundreds of millions of dollars. At this time, it is not clear exactly how the metadata will be stored, how secure the storage will be, or how much the scope of the scheme will creep over time. [SMH]

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