Australia Begins Mass Data Retention
After a new law that came into effect on Tuesday, large amounts of telecommunications metadata must now be kept for two years telecommunications companies in Australia.
The new law includes data on who called or texted whom, and for how long, as well as location, device information and volume of data exchanged; making it easier for authorities to access records.
The law has caused a great debate amongst Australians, with only a few justifying the data retention and others pointing out the flaws in the plan.
The government has said the data retained is only "metadata" and does not include the content of calls and messages themselves.
The bill was introduced when the current Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was the communications minister. Turnbull said the new law was critical for security agencies and law enforcement agencies, citing investigations into domestic terrorism.
At the time, in a joint statement with Attorney-General George Brandis, Turnbull said: "No responsible government can sit by while those who protect us lose access to vital information, particularly in the current high threat environment."
Exempt from the data retention requirements are the likes of Facebook, Skype, Gmail and Google as well as internal email and telephone networks such as those provided by corporate firms and universities.
Those against the bill say the metadata paints a clear picture of what people are doing, even if the content of the message is not included.
The new law will mean that a warrant is still needed to access a journalist's private data in order to get to their sources, but the hearing would take place in private. No warrant is needed for government agencies to search the data of its own people if they suspect that is where the source lies.
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