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Data retention a very hot potato says Oz parl't commitee

Update: A-G shelves the idea, for now

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Fewer wiretaps recommended

Unpicking the entire 300-page epic would take until the end of the week, but there are some other nuggets that deserve to be highlighted.

Who can conduct intercepts? – Access to intercepts is restricted only to agencies involved in “the enforcement of the criminal law, a law imposing a pecuniary penalty, or the protection of the public revenue”. In other worlds, world+dog, since even local governments could feasibly claim to fall under the last definition.

With more than 250,000 requests for access to telecommunications data in 2011, many privacy advocates believe the system is out of control. The JPCIS report believes a further review should reduce the number of agencies who can access telecommunications data.

Other key recommendations are:

  • A new warrant regime is required, with parliamentary oversight;
  • The proportionality tests under which warrants are granted need review;
  • Thresholds for accessing telecommunications content should be reviewed, with privacy impacts to be included in the review.

The apparent neutrality of the report will disappoint privacy advocates and activists: the committee's terms of reference did not leave it free to (for example) recommend against data retention. ®

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