Data retention: committee statements

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".

I must say, I do not understand these things sometimes but I hear about people who leave their computer plugged in overnight and just because it is connected they get a whole charge based upon presumably data the computer is accessing that the individual is not

Philip Ruddock

Below, Computerworld Australia presents some of the statements from committee members.

Philip Ruddock [to Macquarie Telecom]: “I would just like to get some idea about Macquarie. Are you related to Macquarie Bank?”

John Faulkner: “I knew all that, by the way!”
Anthony Byrne: “Yes, exactly – techno-geek here!”

Mark Bishop: “…no-one has suggested to us that there is not significant government control or ownership of Huawei, so I would like you to explain the difference to us. Most of us are under a misapprehension.”
John Lord, chairman, Huawei Technologies (Australia): “I think you are, which is very sad.”

Bishop: “The terms of reference of this inquiry are extraordinarily wide – really, in some respects, too wide.”

Faulkner: “Getting the balance right between safety and security on the one hand and appropriate individual freedoms and liberties, which we all want to defend, is a massive challenge for this committee.”

Ruddock: “I do not think you can look at a terrorist act and say, ‘It might have cost some organisation a million dollars to prevent it’. I would say, ‘It is $1 million well spent’.”

Ruddock [to Vodafone]: “So you are suggesting that, if the government requires you to keep something more, the government should pay for it.”
Matthew Lobb, general manager, industry strategy and public policy, Vodafone: “That seems like a reasonable proposition.”
Ruddock: “That is what you are suggesting?”
Lobb: “Yes.”
Ruddock: “Not cost recovery against your clients?”
Lobb: “No. That would be a position that I think you would have to ask every customer about.”

Ruddock: “I must say, I do not understand these things sometimes but I hear about people who leave their computer plugged in overnight and just because it is connected they get a whole charge based upon presumably data the computer is accessing that the individual is not.”

Ruddock [to ASIC]: “I have another question about the content that you want. Most of the submissions we have been receiving from law enforcement are about retention of what is now euphemistically referred to as metadata. It seems to me that you are not after metadata; you are after content.”
Greg Tanzer, commissioner, ASIC: “We want both.”
George Brandis: “Of course you do.”

Ruddock: “We used to have telephone books.”
Steve Dalby, chief regulatory officer, iiNet: “There was not as much information in the phone books as what is being suggested here.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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