The Australian government will introduce its mandatory data retention scheme next Tuesday.
The scheme, part of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015, will allow government bodies access to all phone and internet metadata for up to two years, revealing all phone numbers and e-mail addresses anyone in Australia has been contacting as well as full location data.
The government has said the scheme is needed to help combat terrorism, organised crime, and other criminal activities. It has defended the scheme noting that there will be significant limits to the accessibility of metadata and that the scheme will be reviewed after three years. Police will need a warrant to seek data from journalists.
Some members of the public believe the scheme is a breach of their privacy.
“It hasn’t proved anything in other countries so why would it here? I think it’s about controlling the people more than our safety,” said Brisbane photographer Jessica Kirby.
Medical Laboratory Science student, Anndrea Pomphrey wasn’t surprised with the lack of publicity for the scheme. “With the change in government at the moment, it’s one of those things they can just talk about in the background and it won’t get much coverage because of the drama.”
Others took to Twitter to express their anger in the form of sarcasm:
It’s just five days until Australia begins its performance art production, ‘Data Retention Catastrophe’.
— Midnight Warbler (@JLLLOW) October 8, 2015
Since the act was approved in October 2014, various protest groups have emerged, one being Citizens, Not Suspects, which said on its website: “The government’s initial attempts to define what communications data they are seeking to retain and access have been nothing short of disastrous”. – Taylor Yates
Top photo by Sarah Allen.