Australian randoms are chill with Internet data retention

Australian National University poll finds peeps more afraid of terrorists than exploding phones

Australians who don't know what the nation spends on defence also don't mind the country's data retention regime.

That's according to an Australian National University (ANU) survey that's mostly been written up from the press release but which The Reg has considered a little more deeply.

The full report, here, lists out the questions from page 24 of the PDF.

It finds (“don't knows” are excluded from the reporting) that two-thirds of Australians think the data retention regime is justified and one-third do not.

Just one-quarter of respondents could correctly identify Australia's defence budget as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) – around two per cent – with 65 per cent putting the figure at five per cent, 10 per cent, or more than 10 per cent (and 10 per cent panicking that we're spending less than a single per cent).

Worry about being caught up in a terrorist incident (which in Australia is a little more likely than having a Galaxy Note 7 catch fire in a pocket) is a near-even split, with 45.5 per cent of Australians “very” or “somewhat” concerned that they or a family member will be a victim of a future attack in Australia; 54.5 per cent aren't worried.

The public seems distinctly confused about what to do on the topic of terrorism: 55.7 per cent of the respondents believe the government “could do more” about it; but not if it's going to cost more, because an even higher proportion – 59.7 per cent – believe the government is spending “about the right amount of money” on anti-terrorism measures.

Returning to attitudes to data retention, this observation, on page eight of the report, is telling:

“When framed as a trade-off between civil liberties and national security, 46 per cent of Australians believe counter-terrorism measures have not gone far enough to protect the country.”

In other words – a detail that's missed in the Australian National University's canned statement – the people conducting the survey acknowledge the importance of framing, when considering questions of civil liberties versus national security.

The report is the result of a random phone survey of 1,200 respondents, with an error margin of plus or minus 2.5 per cent. ®


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