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Roxon clarifies data retention proposals with ASIO support

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Australia’s Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, has tried to take some of the heat out of the data retention debate.

In a letter to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is investigating data retention as part of its examination of national security legislation, Ms Roxon has written: “The government does not propose that a data retention scheme would apply to the content of communications,” adding that the government does not intend to allow warrantless access to “the content of communications”.

The letter comes after repeated criticism from ALP senator John Faulkner regarding the vague wording of the data retention proposals in the discussion paper before the committee.

Ms Roxon’s letter makes extensive reference to the European Directive on data retention – however, it does not explicitly state that the government wishes to implement Europe’s model.

Meanwhile, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has weighed in with an unclassified submission to the committee. Singing from the same sheet as its minister, the intelligence agency also points at the European Directive as “an important basis for discussion with Australian C/CSPs [carriers and carriage service providers – The Register], agencies and other stakeholders”.

If the EU directive were to become the model Australia imitates, it would return the data retention debate to where it stood in 2011, when new cybercrime legislation was first proposed.

Both Ms Roxon and ASIO are now at pains to state that they only seek retention of information about communications, not the content of those communications. This, presumably, could be met be the retention of server logs if the carrier, CSP or ISP hosts the service of interest. ®

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