Electronic Frontiers Australia, quoting a report from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, has claimed that the protection for journalists under our new data retention scheme are "inadequate", and that warrants should be required for all citizens in all situations.
You can find the report here.
Under our new data retention scheme, which shakily went live on October 13th (without full policy instructions to telcos), metadata will be stored and accessible by government agencies such as the AFP and ACCC, just to name two out of twenty-one. But small protections were introduced for journalists, such that agencies wanting to identify a source would first have to obtain a warrant.
"It is clear that the entire concept of creating a special case for one section of the community is fundamentally flawed," said the EFA.
As EFA Chair David Cake rightly points out, there are many other situations where protection is needed, such as lawyer-client relationships, or that of a doctor and patient. Those seem like legal no-brainers, before you get into the more nebulous stuff like whistleblowers.
It proposes a universe warrant program, in which authorities would need judicial approval before accessing the metadata of anyone in Australia. It points to 11 members states of the European Union which functionally operate with such a program, and 3 additional states in which "most" cases require judicial approval.
You can find a comprehensive list of EU states and their policies here.
Then, it brings up that awkward moment from last week.
EFA also notes last week’s announcement by the Attorney-General of an exposure draft of mandatory data breach notification legislation. While the release of this exposure draft is welcome, it does not fulfil the Attorney’s previous commitments to have such legislation introduced to the parliament before the end of this year.