Despite Lack Of Evidence It Will Help, Australia Still Planning To Bring In Data Retention, Still Not Clear If It Could Be Used Against Copyright Infringement
from the learning-the-hard-way dept
Last year, we noted that one danger of bringing in data retention in Australia is that stored metadata might end up being used for all kinds of purposes that have nothing to do with fighting “terrorism,” its principal justification. One particular concern is that it could be used to hunt for people downloading files illegally. Several months later, the signals are still very mixed. On the one hand, we have the following, as reported by the Guardian:
Authorities are not interested in using the Abbott government’s proposed data retention scheme to go after internet pirates and would be prevented from doing so by the commonwealth ombudsman, the assistant commissioner of the Australian federal police, Tim Morris, has said.
Morris also said any changes to the way metadata is collected and used would have to be approved by the ombudsman.
But that guarantee is less than watertight because of the following:
The ombudsman, Colin Neave, has told Guardian Australia his office would not play a formal oversight role in the scheme and would give advice only at the attorney general?s discretion.
The Greens senator Scott Ludlam, noted that the ombudsman’s oversight provided only “weak” protection against function creep, and that the public could not therefore depend on Morris?s assurances that the scope of the scheme would not expand in the future.
Whether or not stored metadata will be used against copyright infringement may be in doubt, but it seems that the Australian government’s intention to bring in data retention is not, despite the fact that when asked on multiple occasions for evidence the move was justified, it has been unable to provide any. That’s not really surprising given the Danish experience that keeping this kind of data didn’t help, and may actually have hindered police investigations. Sadly, it looks like Australia is determined to discover this fact the hard and expensive way.