Some light shed on scope of data retention regime

Comms Alliance calls for public debate on government proposals

Industry peak body, the Communications Alliance, says it is working with the government to “provide greater clarity and precision to a government proposal for a data retention regime”.

The Comms Alliance statement was issued in the wake of a Fairfax media report that the telco industry organisation along with iiNet, Optus, Telstra and Vodafone had received a confidential government discussion paper on the issue of a mandatory data retention regime.

The Australian reported this morning that it had obtained a copy of the paper.

Confirming previous statements by communications Malcolm Turnbull, The Australian reported that the paper did not advocate a session logging regime which would require Internet service providers to retain details about the IP addresses or URLs visited by their customers.

Following confusing statements by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis that seemed to indicate Web browsing history would be retained, Turnbull publicly stated that data retention would require ISPs to keep records of IP addresses allocated to individual customers, not destination IPs.

The discussion paper also includes in the information that would be retained download and upload volumes, contact details and billing information.

“The telecommunications industry respects the needs of security agencies to be able to access data that is already retained for commercial purposes by [carriage service providers] and which is useful for the investigation of serious crime and/or national security issues – and, indeed, there is a long history of productive cooperation between security agencies and CSPs on such issues,” the Comms Alliance statement says.

“We are equally mindful of the need to balance this against the privacy and other rights of consumers and the potential additional costs that may be generated for government, CSPs and/or consumers, depending on the nature of the regime and requirements that the government may propose.”

The group has called for public scrutiny of the data retention proposal.

The organisation has previously estimated that establishing a data retention scheme could cost $500 million.

Brandis confirmed in July that the government intended to introduce a data retention regime.

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