The Australian Parliament has voted to introduce the Government’s two-year data retention scheme into law. Telcos and internet service providers will be required to store metadata of all customers for a two-year period to assist law enforcement agencies in investigations. Metadata – which includes call records, visited web site addresses, location information, billing data and other related data (but not content) – will be stored for two years in a location decided by the individual service provider.
Throughout the process, the senate shot down a number of amendments requested by the Greens party which would have forced the data to be held in Australia and be limited to a three month storage period instead of two years. However, the government agreed to a number of amendments from Labor including requiring a warrant to access data of a journalist and the government will appoint a “public interest advocate” to argue on behalf of those journalists.
Telcos and internet service providers will now have 18 months to prepare their systems for the scheme, which has been forecast to cost between $188.8 million and $319.1 million to set up – a number of which the government has not disclosed. The providers are not restricted in where they can store the data – meaning it can be stored overseas where privacy and data laws may not be as tough as they are in Australia.
The information that will be stored (“Metadata”) will include:
- Names, addresses, birthdates, financial information
- Phone data such as numbers called and messaged
- Computer and internet IP addresses
The bill passed in the Senate today with 43 votes for and 16 against.