Data retention proposals put on hold?

Oz Log proposals could be halted for at least 12 months

Controversial data retention reforms have reportedly been put on hold until after the next election, which could happen as early as August next year.

A report in <i>The Age</i> states the proposal, which could see internet service providers store users’ web history for up to two years, have been stalled.

"...there isn't much appetite within the government for anything that attracts controversy," a senior national security official reportedly told Fairfax.

A parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security is currently carrying out an inquiry to consider proposals for reforms for telecommunications interception, telecommunications sector security and Australian intelligence community legislation.

One of the most contentious aspects of the proposals includes "tailored data retention periods for up to two years for parts of a data set", with every internet users' entire web history logged and stored for up to two years.

AFP assistant commissioner, Neil Gaughan, recently said data retention could help the AFP with the investigation of internet protocol (IP) addresses which had been used to download child pornography content.

However, Greens senator, Scott Ludlam, has been a strong opponent of the proposals and believes legislation should not be passed and has called it a dodgy premise.

“[The government] say they’re looking to strike a balance between people’s privacy and the ability of spy agencies to surviel people, but they haven’t even attempted to strike that balance,” Ludlam previously told Computerworld Australia.

“It’s curious that they would try and pay it lip service while actually totally violating the principles of privacy."

Pirate Party Australia is currently running a petition against the data retention proposals and stated on Twitter that although the proposals may have been put on hold, it doesn't mean they're "dead".

“While we are happy that action on this issue has be delayed, we are skeptical that this may mean they will push the changes through quietly once no-one is looking,” Simon Frew, deputy president of Pirate Party Australia, said in a statement.

“The Government has side-stepped a pre-election battle over online privacy. Stalling this issue is not the same as removing it. The Government appears to recognise the proposals as controversial, and seems to want to avoid any media and public attention if – or when – the changes occur.”

The data retention proposals could see providers – such as internet service providers and mobile carriers - lumped with the costs involved with data retention, with the terms of reference including “targeted powers for government to mitigate and remediate security risks with the costs to be borne by providers”.

These cost will ultimately be passed onto consumers, Ludlam has said.

“Now keep in mind that’s not just your internet service provider. It’s your mobile phone company, it’s your bank, it’s probably Skype … any service at all that has any footprint online ... So they’ll have to pass through those costs if that’s what the law says they have to do,” he said.

Update: Pirate Party Australia comments.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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