Targeted "preservation notices" issued under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act together with stored communications warrants offer an alternative to the mass surveillance dragnet implied by a mandatory data retention scheme, according to Internet service provider iiNet.
In a response (PDF) to questions taken on notice at a hearing of a Senate committee examining reform of the TIA Act, the ISP also takes issue with the government's claim that data retention "is very much the way Western nations are going".
"Targeted preservation notices used together with stored communications warrants provide an alternative framework to mass data retention that is designed to ensure that any retention and access to private data is necessary and legitimate," the ISP states in its document.
Changes in 2012 to the TIA Act to bring Australia into line with its obligations as a signatory to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime have been "Largely absent from recent discussions on data retention," iiNet states.
Section 107G of the Tia Act creates a system under which law enforcement agencies can direct a carrier to preserve "certain stored communications".
"The purpose of the preservation is to prevent the communications from being destroyed before they can be accessed under certain warrants issued under this Act," the legislation states.
The ISP also highlighted setbacks to overseas attempts to introduce data retention regimes. In Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Romania and Slovenia data retention regimes have been ruled unconstitutional.
Laws in Denmark, Slovakia and Sweden also faced setbacks in the wake of a ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) which struck down the European Data Retention Directive.
The EU directive has been cited by Attorney-General George Brandis as an indication of the acceptance of data retention regimes overseas.
Last week confusion reigned after the government gave conflicting messages on the scope of a data retention regime, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Brandis seeming to indicate that Web browsing history would be retained in some form.
However, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull later revealed that the government was seeking only for ISPs to retain records of which IP addresses were assigned to customers over a two-year period.
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