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iiNet to Senate committee: metadata retention an expensive joke

'An impractical idea'

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iiNet has tried to swim against the tide of government agencies bent on turning ISPs and telcos into outsourced snoops, telling a Senate committee that proposals for mandatory data retention are intrusive, expensive and impractical.

In this curt submission to the Senate committee inquiring into revisions of the Telecommunications Interception Act, the ISP takes the Attorney-General's department to task over its belief that metadata storage isn't a privacy intrusion.

Pointing to research from Stanford University (here), iiNet's submission notes that “telecommunications data when accessed and analysed may create a profile of a person’s life including medical conditions, political and religious views and associations” – which is probably exactly what police and spook agencies like about metadata.

“iiNet is uncomfortable with the notion that commercial businesses may be forced into a role as unwilling agents of the state to collect, store and safeguard very large databases for which the companies themselves have no use,” the submission says.

Then there's the cost of retaining data, which iiNet puts at perhaps $AU60 million to build and secure a 20PB* data centre.

That scale, iiNet says, would be needed because of the exponential growth in the number of mobile devices with some kind of Internet access, along with the predicted “Internet of Things” explosion in devices with IP addresses:

“It is an impractical idea to store such data and it is even more impractical to suggest that a law enforcement agency, can simply call up a service provider and say 'Give me all Joe Blow’s URLs for 15 June 2012”.

However, as Vulture South noted earlier this week, even the Federal opposition appears to have been captured by the country's spy agencies, making even concerted industry resistance to mandatory data retention appear at best a forlorn cause. ®

*Thanks to the reader that pointed out my error in the size of the data centre. ®

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