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Australia's opposition backs warrantless metadata collection

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Australia's opposition Labor Party has signalled that it intends to link arms with the intelligence community.

In a television interview with Sky News, the party's deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said she wants to give “agencies the maximum ability to do their job well, within the bounds that people would expect.”

According to The Guardian, she told Sky this includes ongoing support for mandatory retention of telecommunications metadata, something the ALP also supported in government, when it consistently pushed for the implementation of a European-like data retention regime.

Plibersek likened the bulk collection and retention of metadata as “saving envelopes” and keeping haystacks to “look for the needle afterwards”.

This is in spite of repeated research that demonstrates the degree to which even apparently-anonymised information can be linked back to individuals – for example, even HTTPS can leak private information, and it's known that anonymised data can still be used to identify individuals.

Earlier this month, Australia's inspector-general of intelligence and security warned against agency mission-creep.

In contrast, Plibersek told Sky News government has to make life “as easy as we can” for agencies to save Australians from terrorists.

Agencies have been using the ongoing Syrian conflict to lobby for expanded powers in Australia, saying that radicalised Australian citizens have been travelling to the middle east to join in the fighting. ®

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