Australia

Current Status: Australia has not adopted a mandatory data retention law, but Australia’s Attorney General has proposed the implementation of an EU-style data retention law. 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. Concerned citizens have until August 6 to weigh in on the proposals, which are outlined in a 60-page discussion paper.

Public Discussion: Australia currently has a data protection legislation that protects citizen's personal data. The proposed “OzLog” mandatory data retention policy would have required Australian Internet service providers to store information about customer’s web usage history for two years. This proposal would have 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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