Data retention: Who wants it, who doesn't and why

Several companies and organisations have now appeared at four public hearings into intelligence and security reform proposals.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is currently conducting an inquiry into reforms to Australia’s interception and security legislation.

The inquiry relates to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979; Telecommunications Act 1997; Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979; and Intelligence Services Act 2001 and began in July this year.

One of the most contentious aspects of the terms of reference include "tailored data retention periods for up to two years for parts of a data set, with specific timeframes taking into account agency priorities and privacy and cost impacts".

However, the committee is also examining modernising intelligence access to communications data, enhancing the operational capacity of intelligence agencies and mitigating the risks posed by foreign technology and service suppliers.

It will look at security risks posed to the telecommunications sector and whether the government needs to introduce measures which the telco industry would need to implement in order to protect their networks from unauthorised interference.

“It is vital that our security laws keep pace with the rapid developments in technology,” Anthony Byrne, chair of the committee, has said.

The inquiry has ignited fierce debate around data retention, with the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, stating that police investigations would be unable to create a picture of criminal activity without data retention laws.

“We’re no longer just dealing with guards and gates, bombs and bullets when we talk about defending our nation and its secrets. We’re now fairly and squarely working in an online environment,” she has said. “And this has created a whole new dimension of both opportunity and threat.”

A total of four public hearings have now been held, with another hearing to be held tonight with the Attorney-General’s Department.

Computerworld Australia took a look some of the statements from organisations and companies at the hearing in the for and against case for the proposals and also some of the statements from the committee.

The arguments for data retention.

The arguments against data retention.

Statements from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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