Pirate Party Australia is concerned by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon’s recent letter to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). In the letter Ms Roxon attempts to clarify the meaning of “telecommunications data” in the ongoing National Security Inquiry.
According to Ms Roxon, “telecommunications data” is everything except the actual contents of communications.
“While this may seem harmless, knowing who is communicating with who can be just as revealing as the actual contents,” said Brendan Molloy, Secretary of Pirate Party Australia. “By storing who you are communicating with, profiles can be built of individuals and communities. This is not reasonable surveillance, this is spying on innocent people.”
“In addition, storing the date, time and location that communications were made at is effectively a massive tracking scheme. We are constantly sending data through Facebook, emails, text messages, and so on. There are obvious implications about storing where we were and when.”
Ms Roxon cites the European Union’s adoption of the data retention directive (Directive 2006/24/EC) as justification for the need of similar measures in Australia, writing that it “has been implemented by the majority of the 25 Member States of the EU with the remaining Member states at various stages of implementation.”
“What Nicola Roxon fails to acknowledge is that in three member states – Germany, Romania and the Czech Republic – it has been declared unconstitutional. This was due to the infringement of privacy associated with such retention measures. Additionally, Sweden and Serbia have only implemented data retention for six months, not the two years the Government’s discussion paper proposes,” Mr Molloy continued.
Pirate Party Australia will consider putting forward a supplementary submission to the PJCIS addressing the issues raised by the Attorney-General’s letter.
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