Se­nate lets new data law through


AUS­TRALIANS will have two years of their meta­data stored by phone and in­ter­net providers af­ter the Ab­bott Gov­ern­ment’s con­tro­ver­sial data re­ten­tion laws passed Par­lia­ment last night.

But it is un­clear how much will be added to in­ter­net users’ monthly bills.

The Gov­ern­ment be­lieves the laws, which al­low about 85 se­cu­rity and polic­ing agen­cies to ac­cess two years of an in­di­vid­ual’s meta­data, are cru­cial to thwart ter­ror­ism at­tacks and pre­vent se­ri­ous crime.

The scheme will cost $400 mil­lion a year, but the Gov­ern­ment will not re­veal its share un­til the May Bud­get.

A gov­ern­ment-com­mis­sioned re­view found the scheme would cost about $3.98 a cus­tomer each year if no tax­payer as­sis­tance was pro­vided.

Meta­data in­cludes the iden­tity of a sub­scriber and the source, des­ti­na­tion, date, time, du­ra­tion and type of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

It ex­cludes the con­tent of a mes­sage, phone call or email and web-brows­ing his­tory.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Ge­orge Bran­dis said telcos had col­lected this type of data for 20 years, how­ever the cost of stor­age meant it was more likely to be dis­carded, de­grad­ing po­lice and se­cu­rity agency in­ves­ti­ga­tions, he said.

La­bor backed the laws af­ter the Gov­ern­ment agreed to dozens of changes and a spe­cific war­rant safe­guard for jour­nal­ists.

Palmer United Party Se­na­tor Zhenya Wang also sided with the Coali­tion.

The Gov­ern­ment did not win sup­port from the Aus­tralian Greens or sev­eral cross­benchers, who fear the laws are an in­va­sion of pri­vacy.

Lib­eral Demo­crat David Ley­on­hjelm con­demned the laws as an in­ef­fec­tive anti-ter­ror­ism tool and ac­cused Se­na­tor Bran­dis of be­ing “more obe­di­ent to the Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice than some of their snif­fer dogs”.

In­de­pen­dent Se­na­tor Jac­qui Lam­bie said im­pos­ing the death penalty on con­victed ter­ror­ists would be a more suc­cess­ful na­tional se­cu­rity plan.

The Greens un­suc­cess­fully tried to amend the Bill to re­quire war­rants for most meta­data ac­cess.

SUC­CESS: At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Ge­orge Bran­dis.

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