Government Wants To Track Your Web Use: Inquiry Will Let You Have Your Say

The catchily named Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security has finally outed its terms of reference for the inquiry into National Security Legislation, and you know what that means: data retention is finally up for discussion via your submissions.

Spotted by Crikey, the committee is set to review several pieces of legislation including the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, the Telecommunications Act, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act and the Intelligence Services Act.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon was found to be holding meetings with ISPs two years ago to kick around the idea of storing user browsing data for a specific period of time for the purpose of law enforcement. Cue the uproar. Now, the inquiry to discuss the legitimacy of these legislative amendments is finally getting off the ground after a few false starts.

According to the terms of reference, it’s all about finding a balance between effective law enforcement with the aid of technology versus the privacy of citizens. You can view the full terms of reference here, but some of the more interesting points read a bit like this:

Government is expressly seeking the views of the Committee on the following matters:
Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979
14. Reforming the Lawful Access Regime
a. expanding the basis of interception activities
15. Modernising the Industry assistance framework
a. establish an offence for failure to assist in the decryption of communications
b. institute industry response timelines
c. tailored data retention periods for up to 2 years for parts of a data set, with specific timeframes taking into account agency priorities, and privacy and cost impacts

Other topics for committee discussion include the possibility of imposing an obligation on telcos that makes them responsible for dealing with attacks on their infrastructure, while imposing an obligation that sees them provide the government with detailed network designs in case of an attack.

The committee mentioned there is being chaired by Member for Holt Anthony Byrne. Reporting into him are members including Senator George Brandis, Senator John Faulkner and Member for Griffith, Kevin Rudd.

You can have your say on these proposed amendments. Submissions are open until Monday 6 August. [Senate]

Image: Stefan Postles/Getty Images

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