Scrap mandatory data retention bill, says privacy advocate

Proposed reform compromises privacy, warns Law Institute of Victoria

Data retention compromises privacy

Data retention compromises privacy

Federal government plans to introduce a data retention bill are under scrutiny – with another privacy advocate saying this proposal should be scrapped.

Kate Miller, president of the Law Institute of Victoria warns that the administration is asking Parliament for a “blank check” under moves to push through its controversial data retention bill.

The comprehensive data retention scheme proposed in this bill is invasive and likely to be costly, says Miller.

Among the concerns, this scheme threatens the right to privacy, freedom of expression and association and a free press. The pervasiveness of mobile and internet devices means people are increasingly more connected. The government risks creating a “spider web of records” through its data retention plan.

Related: Quality of government data

In its submission to the Parliamentary Joint Intelligence and Security Committee, the institute has raised over 30 serious questions and concerns about the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014.

Serious concerns

As it stands, this bill has failed to address the more serious privacy, freedom and data security concerns. These were raised in relation to mandatory data retention both in Australia and overseas.

The Commonwealth’s Parliamentary Committee should hold the “government to account" for failure to make a case for this bill, according to Miller.

Given widespread concerns, this data retention proposal should be withdrawn. If the committee does not agree with the institute’s stance, this organisation is suggesting additional safeguards.

Among these, a data set must be defined in the primary legislation. Moreover, providers should not be required to create data.

Agencies that can access telecommunications data should be exhaustively set out in the legislation. Additionally, access to telecommunications data should be restricted to criminal law enforcement agencies to prevent, detect or enforce measures against serious crimes.

Sourcing telecommunications data needs better judicial oversight. Specific protections are also canvassed to access privileged or confidential information.

Data retention periods should be reduced to what is strictly necessary and proportionate. Details around this submission can be seen at the institute web site.

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Follow Shahida Sweeney on Twitter: @ShahidaSweeney

Tags Parliamentary Joint Intelligence and Security Committeesecuritytelecommunications. mobilityLaw Institute of Victoriadata retentionAustralian Governmentinternetprivacyprivacy safe-guards

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