Labor set to back data retention regime

Data retention back in parliament next week

The government's controversial data retention legislation will be debated in parliament next week, with Labor reportedly set to back the scheme to force telecommunications providers to keep customer data for 24 months.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is due to hand down today the report of its inquiry into the bill.

The bill will force telecommunications providers to store for two years a range of metadata relating to telephony and Internet usage by their customers.

Resumption of debate on the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) is scheduled for Tuesday, 3 March.

A report in the <i>Guardian</i> claimed that the PJCIS's report does not agree to any of the changes to the bill proposed by journalists and publishers.

The journalists' union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) , has called for the bill to be ditched. If it isn't scrapped by the government, then it should be amended to protect the confidentiality of journalists' sources.

The draft legislation program for the lower house's autumn sittings provisionally lists debate on the legislation for next week.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for the support of the Labor party to push the bill through parliament in March.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has raised concerns over elements of the government's proposed regime but said he supports "expeditious consideration" of the data retention bill.

Fairfax has reported that amendments to the bill will define the metadata to be collected within the proposed legislation.

In the bill's current form, the detail of what metadata is required to be retained will be set out in regulation.

The organisations able to access the retained data will also be fixed in the amended bill. Currently, the attorney-general can authorise further organisations to access the data.

The use of data in civil proceedings — for example copyright infringement cases— will depend on the discretion of the attorney-general. Attorney-General George Brandis previously claimed that the government's proposed data retention laws "can't be and won't be" used to pursue pirates.

Read more: Abbott slammed over data retention cost comments

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