Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says that proposed data retention laws would require Internet service providers to retain records of the IP address used by customers of their service — not the IP addresses of websites visited by customers.
The minister made the comments in an ABC Radio interview this morning.
"There has been some concern expressed that the government was proposing that telcos should retain for two years a record of the websites that you visit when you're online, whether that's expressed in the form of their domain names or their IP addresses, in other words, that there would be a requirement to keep a two-year record of your Web browsing or Web surfing history," Turnbull said.
"That is not the case," the minister said.
In addition to call records, security agencies "also want the IP address, which is the number that is assigned to your phone or your computer when you go online by your ISP, so that you can be connected on the internet".
"And, that is of course connected... the ISP knows that IP address is connected to your account. That's recorded in their records. They want that information to be kept for two years," Turnbull said.
Turbnull said that the government is still formulating its policy and discussing it with ISPs.
"I just wanted to be very clear that the agencies, the security agencies are not seeking that the government require telcos to keep a record of your browsing history, of your web surfing activity. That's a very important point," the minister said.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis have both had trouble explaining what data would be retained under the proposed scheme. Brandis told Sky News that "what will be caught is the Web address [an ISP's customers] communicate to."
The PM said in an interview on Channel Nine's Today show that metadata was "not what you're doing on the Internet; it's the sites you're visiting."
Turnbull said his explanation of data retention was consistent with the attorney-general's and the prime minister's.Read more: Metadata retention no cause for alarm say ASIO, AFP
Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p