On Thursday, the Government introduced data retention legislation into the House of Representatives as the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014. The AFP has confirmed, even before the legislation has been voted upon in Parliament, that data retention will be used for copyright enforcement. The legislation also confirms that the exact location of mobile phone users will be stored as part of these provisions.
“There are far too many flaws in this legislation to enumerate,” said Brendan Molloy, President of the Pirate Party.
“There has been no discussion as to why the current retention order provisions are insufficient. This legislation is disproportionate and unnecessary. ‘Metadata’ is ill-defined in such a way as to contain so much information that it is effectively the content of the communication, insofar that it contains the context and location of all communications. This is a massive issue for journalists, whistleblowers, activists, and a whole host of other persons whose activities are in many cases legal but perhaps not in the interests of the state to let happen without some level of harassment.
“There are significant issues relating to cost and security of the data. Steve Dalby of iiNet said yesterday that iiNet would consider storing the data where it is the cheapest, which includes Chinese cloud providers. There will be a significant ‘surveillance tax’ introduced by retailers to cover the costs of storing this data that nobody wants stored.
“Now we have it admitted by the AFP today that this legislation will be used for something completely unrelated to national security: copyright enforcement. The legislation hasn’t passed and yet already the scope is creeping! They are taking away our right to free expression and privacy to protect the profits of a few large corporations.
“There is significant evidence to suggest that this legislation, which ensures that all persons in Australia will be under permanent and constant surveillance regarding all of the activities they conduct in the modern world, exists for nothing more than to track and control the entire population through the chilling effect of the knowledge that the Government will be storing your precise location data for two years, and more.
“This has very quickly gone from the fallacious argument of stopping Johnny Terrorist to being abused for civil proceedings such as divorce or copyright infringement. This legislation seems to go significantly further than a similar directive that was overturned by the Court of Justice of the European Union as being disproportionate.
“There is no justification provided as to why this data needs to be stored for every person in this country. Targeted surveillance with a warrant is already possible under current legislation. No exposure draft was provided because the Government knows that this legislation has no support and would be dead in the water if any real public consultation were to be undertaken.
“And the best part: there is still no definition of ‘metadata’ after six years of backroom consultations between the AGD and industry.
“We urge Labor and other Senators to block this abhorrent attack on free expression and liberal democracy which will cause untold damage to our culture and our judicial principals and practices. People have the right to be treated as innocent before proven guilty, and the right to live freely in a supposedly free society.”