Jun 24, 2013

National security inquiry declines to endorse data retention

A key review of proposal to strengthen national security laws has opted against recommending mandatory data retention, and suggested a strictly limited scheme if governments do consider one.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Parliament’s joint committee on intelligence and security has failed to endorse a data retention regime as part of its response to a slate of proposed national security reforms, instead laying the groundwork for a limited scheme if a government should decide to implement one.

The committee — headed by Labor MP Anthony Byrne and including senior figures such as John Faulkner, George Brandis and Phillip Ruddock, as well as independent MP and former intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie — was asked to consider 44 national security reforms by then-attorney-general Nicola Roxon in May last year, initially with a tight deadline that was later extended to the end of 2012 to reflect the extent and range of the proposals under consideration. After repeated criticisms of the Attorney-General’s Department about the lack of detail in the proposals, particularly around data retention, by committee members, the committee missed its end-of-year deadline as it grappled with a long list of complex technical, legal, national security and privacy issues.

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6 thoughts on “National security inquiry declines to endorse data retention

  1. robinw

    The committee may recommend as much as they like. The question to be answered is will the government of the day (any day) listen or will it be swayed by the Attorney General’s Department and its coterie of spooks?. Call me a pessimist but if the UK and the USA are anything to go by then we will be caught in the same trap as the citizens of those two countries. And the committee’s deliberations do not answer just what our spooks are already getting about us from GCHQ and NSA which wasn’t a part of the committee’s remit. In addition, just what are the spooks doing with this data if they are, undoubtedly in my opinion, receiving it?

    The greatest danger I see in all this is that we are in danger of giving to non elected officials the power to gain access to data on all of us which could be used at a later date to blackmail anyone to satisfy the agenda of those unelected officials. Something like the J Edgar Hoover dirt files but magnified exponentially. Obviously this has serious ramifications for democracy, freedom and ultimately social cohesion.

  2. Harry Rogers

    Remember Dreyfus our current AG fought on behalf of Labor Party for Freedom of Information laws . Now it appears he has no real beliefs just anything that his seriously incompetent department requests he rubber stamps.

    The only saving grace for all of us is, if East German history is an example , eventually the government will have so much information,that relying on their incompetence, they wont have a clue what to do with it.

    Faulkner must hang his head in shame when he sees what is being proposed and decided not to campaign against it as he will soon be out of politics and leave behind for his and our children and a legacy of Stazi land Australia.

    Can anyone tell me the last Federal law which was repealed apart from taxation law.

  3. AR

    At the moment the buzz word is meta data and the bromide spray machine is going full blast, nothing to worry about, we know best etc ad nauseam.
    The problem is not just the government knowing as much about one as one knows oneself but MORE, ie wrong information, lies, mistakes, rumour and unfounded speculation.
    The Admiralty Rating system used in intelligence, A-F/1-6, is, roughly A1 means “eye witness, proved” to F6 “3rd hand/unknown provenance”
    The vast majority of the reports struggle to rise above C3, most is garbage lower in D4 or worse.
    DATA is NOT information, INFORMATION is NOT knowledge, KNOWLEDGE is NOT intelligence and INTELLIGENCE must be accurate, useable & timely.

  4. Elliot Blue

    Yes @robinw but the risk isn’t only blackmail: Eighteen months ago the Age reported rampant corruption in the APS which neither goverment or opposition will say a word on. Corrupt civil servants could use data retention to find out what citizens reporting them are doing and who they are talking to. They can already do this to some degree with their existing warrantless access to communications and email metadata also reported last year. Right now they can’t see what the target is saying but they can see which journalists and politicians they are talking to which is handy for damage control.

  5. Mysta Squiggle

    Meta-Data *is* data and reveals a lot more than these committee members realise. eg http://www.zeit.de/datenschutz/malte-spitz-data-retention

  6. The Cleaning Lady

    The sentence of the Committee’s report that I find troubling is this: “This is ultimately a decision for Government.”

    No. Government must be accountable to the parliament. The Committee must find out what the government is doing and what provisions of the law it interprets as giving it the authority to do what it is doing. Is it letting the proposed legislative changes rest because it has a fall back position based on other statutory provisions that it is using for purposes beyond the original legislative intent? The Committee should require the department to provide it with the legal advice on which it bases its current data retention activities.

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