Pirate Party Outraged at Breach of User Trust with Telstra Data Retention

Pirate Party Australia is outraged at Telstra’s underhanded scheme of tracking the websites accessed by their customers.[1] It was recently revealed by the telecommunications company that they track and store web addresses visited by their NextG subscribers on systems in Chicago, out of reach of Australian law.

“This raises a series of very serious issues. They are logging user behaviour without consent and the data is stored in the United States where our Privacy Act does not apply, but where the Patriot Act does apply. I find the claims that the non-consensual use of the data will be used to build an Internet filtering database for their ‘Smart Controls’ product to be troubling,” said Brendan Molloy, Party Secretary.

“If they were simply comparing the access URLs against a list, there would be no need for their software to actually download the requested pages. The worst part is that the logging software they are using poses as a legitimate hit from a Firefox 3 browser, so one cannot just block or detect their logging software. It’s dishonest at best, and malicious at worst. You won’t find a Google indexing spider pretending to be another browser.”

Pirate Party Australia calls for the immediate cessation of the data logging by Telstra pending the consent of Telstra users, and a recommendation for an investigation by the Privacy Commissioner. Pirate Party Australia will not tolerate any incursion into personal privacy, which includes data retention schemes with no judicial or public oversight.

“Many people do not have any option but to use Telstra’s services. While this data retention scheme might not be illegal, it’s certainly unethical and will not be tolerated. I believe Telstra recognises this, considering how quickly they rushed the modification of their Terms of Service[2] after the data retention scheme had already been implemented. I doubt this will be the last we hear of the issue,” concluded Mr Molloy.

This is not the first time data retention issues have appeared in the Australian political landscape. Previously the Labor Government raised the ‘#OzLog’ proposal[3], whereby the Government would mandate the blanket retention of web surfing data for a long period of time. The public is still waiting for a public consultation on that proposal.

Pirate Party Australia is currently attempting to gain 100 members from the ACT by Friday in order to register for the ACT elections. If you want to see Pirates on the ballot, join today: https://join.pirateparty.org.au.

[1] http://www.scmagazine.com.au/News/306441,telstra-tracks-users-to-build-web-filter.aspx
[2] Backup copy of ToS, dated 26 June, 2012: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/7611623/dataservices-20120626.pdf
[3] http://delimiter.com.au/2012/05/04/govt-seeks-substantial-boost-to-surveillance-powers/