Jun 20, 2013

Attorney-General’s Department: hiding a data retention gargoyle?

Questions continue to grow about the extent of the Attorney-General Department's work on data retention, and whether it is hiding it from scrutiny. Is AGD quietly developing legislation on data retention?

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

More evidence has emerged that the Attorney-General’s Department has significantly downplayed the extent of its work in developing a data retention regime to record data about Australians’ telephone and internet usage — and may have misled a Senate committee about it.

At an estimates hearing in May, departmental officials appeared before the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and answered a series of questions about the department’s work on data retention from Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. Ludlam asked about the extent to which the department had developed legislation to establish a requirement that telecommunications and internet carriers retain data, before the issue was referred for a public inquiry by the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security by then attorney-general Nicola Roxon.

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3 thoughts on “Attorney-General’s Department: hiding a data retention gargoyle?

  1. bluepoppy

    So ‘vague draft provisions’ has suddenly proved to be too voluminous for the department to handle. While an FOI request may divert resources from the agency, where were all these documents when Smith and Wilkins were responding to questions from Senate Estimates Committee?

  2. Ian

    It’s no surprise to learn about the secrecy pertaining to this legislation. After all Australian governments are an unquestioning ally/servant of the US and its industrial/military/spy complex.

  3. Person Ordinary

    Will we, the public, ever get to negotiate the terms of surveillance and data retention? Or does this cold war between secret services and free public communications simply escalate forever?

    If the best we can do is have the rare hard working journalist poking for weaknesses in the shady underworld of true power, trying to exploit gaps before they are sealed forever, then we seem destined for an age of authoritarian rule.

    There is already something authoritarian about persecuting whistle blowers who have only broken rules that were set without public participation or awareness. The secret activities in the AGD could be just one more piece of evidence that a forced transition to totalitarian consumerism is well underway.

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