The Pirate Party is vehemently opposed to any proposals for data retention being put forward by the Abbott Government. It has been announced that the National Security Committee, part of the Cabinet, has signed off on proposals to store all telecommunications “metadata” for two years, meaning that everyone with a phone or Internet connection will have the details of their communications stored. This proposal is being justified as necessary on tenuous “national security” grounds and on the basis that content of communications will be excluded.
“It is wholly inappropriate for a digitally illiterate cabal of politicians to determine what is appropriate policy in this area at all. The media also continues to fuel misinformation regarding what is being proposed here and it must stop,” said Brendan Molloy, President of the Pirate Party.
“Storing 24 months worth of metadata from Internet-based communications is not comparable to storing the time and phone number of a phone call. Internet metadata can identify not only who you contacted and when, but dependent on the device you are using, it could include your exact position during that communication, the subject matter of the communication, the context of the communication, and a whole wealth of other information that could not be gathered from the content.
“This is a grotesque attack on every Australian’s right to privacy and the legal principle of being treated as innocent until proven guilty, as a blanket Internet surveillance regime treats us all as suspects, sucking up a wealth of data that goes significantly beyond the pre-digital era definition of metadata. Metadata is personally identifiable information; it is private, and it should require a warrant for collection and access. The potential for abuse greatly outweighs any positives there may be.
“The smallest, most reasonable gesture the Government could perform is to seriously undertake an open and considered consultation process on these proposals, and allow those who understand the implications of what is being proposed to demonstrate what an absurdly disproportionate and undesirable proposal it is.
“The worst part is that there is no evidence that this will help fight ‘terrorism’ at all. If we look to the US, despite their global wiretapping regime, domestic terror attacks such as the Boston Bombings were not thwarted by the wide-scale, dragnet surveillance of people around the world. Why would it work here?”
Similar legislation had been ruled invalid by the Court of Justice of the European Union. When the Abbott Government first announced it was considering introducing a data retention regime, the Pirate Party commented that the Court of Justice’s ruling was not an invitation to Governments to find ways around the concerns raised.