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.