Vigilance is required on data retention

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Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.

Certainly that’s true when it comes to the seemingly perennial threat of mandatory data retention. Several government bodies have made a fresh push for the universal online surveillance regime. They’ve now been joined by Northern Territory Police:

In the submission, the NT Police went further than any other law enforcement agency that spoke to the parliamentary committee as part of the report, and said that in addition to the so-called metadata, the NT Police would like to access internet browsing history under the system without obtaining a warrant.

“The NT Police are supportive of a data retention regime of two years. Such a regime would assist law enforcement agencies in investigating serious crimes. The NT Police are not in favour of excluding browser history,” the NT Police said.

“This is inconsistent with the spirit of a revised Act being technology neutral. With the shift from traditional telephony services to IP-based services communications taken place on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and other IP platforms, this data may be included in browser history, and is important to capture as telephone records for law enforcement purposes.”

The NT Police proposal is an even more dangerous invasion of privacy than the regime proposed under the Gillard government in 2012. But even if NT Police doesn’t get its way on browsing history any data retention regime would still poses a very serious threat to privacy. Very detailed personal profiles can be built up using only a person’s ‘metadata’.

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