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Australia

Current Status: In 2015 the Australian Parliament passed amendments to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 requiring telecommunication service providers to retain for two years certain telecommunications metadata prescribed by regulations.

History: In mid-July of 2012, Attorney General Nicola Roxon submitted a package of proposals to the Australian Parliament calling for a host of measures that would increase law enforcement's online surveillance powers, including a two-year "tailored" data retention scheme. The package also increased the powers of interception to make it easier for the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) to break into computers and computer networks, including third parties not targeted in warrants, and prosecute anyone who names an ASIO officer. The Australian Senate issued a report recommending that the government first study the costs, benefits, and risks of data retention legislation, demonstrate that retaining data is necessary for law enforcement, and quantify and justify implemention costs to ISPs. The report added that the Australian government must assure citizens that data retained will be stored securely and subject to appropriate accountability mechanisms. It also asked the Australian government to consult with a wide range of stakeholders, including NGOs whom the Australian Government has yet to consult. Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security rejected the current plan’s terms of reference, sending it back for reconsideration. Later on, the mandatory data retention scheme resurfaced as part of a National Security Inquiry that Roxon has asked Parliament to take up as part of a bid to vastly expand surveillance powers for Australia's six intelligence agencies.

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