Data-retention Down Under

The Internet undoubtedly underpins today’s society. We use it for everything; to chat, to learn, to contribute, to buy, to find help and even for our finances. It’s this context that one should evaluate the worrying push by law-enforcement and spy agencies to record our every Internet action.

Under current federal Australian law – specifically the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 – over 300 thousand warrantless requests for ‘metadata’ were made in the last financial year alone. This ‘metadata’ was accessed – without any warrant ever being issued – by over forty different organisations for a ‘law-enforcement purpose’. These organisations are diverse but they have included the RSPCA, a city council, a taxi directorate, the Australian Taxation Office and the all enforcing, Australia Post.

At that end of the day this is just a law-enforcement push but it’s a very disconcerting one. While the wider internet community – from the Internet Engineering Task Force to Reset the Net – have been working to improve the privacy of every day Internet users – be it from abusive governments, identity thieves and your garden variety hacker – the ‘law-enforcement’ community have been trying to undermine every effort that’s been made and destroy what little privacy people have won back.