Data Retention Bill

February 10, 2015

ALHR has made a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security in relation to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014.  ALHR strongly opposes the adoption of the Bill.

As the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security noted in 2013:

a mandatory data retention regime raises fundamental privacy issues, and is arguably a significant extension of the power of the state over the citizen. No such regime should be enacted unless those privacy and civil liberties concerns are sufficiently addressed.

The Bill imposes blanket data collection on all Australians for surveillance purposes.  It requires (unspecified) data about personal computer and phone communications to be kept for at least two years and be available to various government bodies without a warrant or any other prior court approval and without court oversight.  There is no requirement for anyone to be notified when their data is accessed.

The Bill chills our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.  It introduces a type of data collection which has been struck down by European Courts and is more usually associated with authoritarian regimes than with vibrant democracies.

The Bill will not apply to all providers, but will impose enormous additional costs mainly on local service providers (who must hold the information and try to keep it secure).  These costs will mostly flow through to consumers.  The Bill does not even require the data to be stored in Australia, so the goldmines of Australians’ personal information that will be created could be stored with the cheapest overseas bidders, and be at great risk of being stolen.

The Bill also raises serious client confidentiality issues for the legal profession.

The submission is attached.