The government’s data retention proposal is a serious threat to media freedom and must be vigorously opposed.

As Bernard Keane explains today, increasing the amount of metadata from our phones and computers that law enforcement and intelligence agencies can access increases the threat to whistleblowers and the journalists who rely on them. Increasing the amount of metadata stored and accessible to courts will also enable companies and well-resourced individuals to pursue targets of their litigation. And increasing the amount of metadata that a hacker or “inside threat” could reveal through a security breach also makes life more difficult for the media.

No media company that is serious about holding the powerful to account can fail to oppose data retention. Good journalists and their editors have plenty to hide from governments. If you claim to be a journalist and you don’t have something to hide, you’re not doing your job very well.

Perhaps some journalists and the companies they work for don’t see themselves as holding the powerful to account. Perhaps some see themselves as, in effect, an arm of the government, dedicated to protecting governments from media scrutiny and justifying the actions of governments. Such journalists, such companies, might view data retention differently.

Crikey doesn’t see its role that way. And, in data retention, we see a significant threat to media freedom and to the civil society that a free press upholds.