Posted November 14, 2019 11:03:32 Australia’s government-funded research institute is looking to the US for help with its plans to change the way the country’s telecommunications companies operate.
The Federal Government is set to unveil new laws that would require telecommunications providers to hand over metadata on all their customers and would give police the power to access that data in the future.
Under the proposed laws, companies would be required to store the content of all the content they share with third parties.
If a customer were to upload a file or send a message to a third party, the provider would have to store that file or message for a minimum of 12 months and store it in a central location.
But what if the content wasn’t downloaded or sent and then it suddenly disappeared from the network?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has suggested that in the event of that, the company would have no option but to share the information with police.
But telecommunications experts are worried that a new law could undermine the way they work.
“I think that the law will probably come down in favour of a collection of information on all Australians that is less than 12 months old, because the government wants us to be able to see what we’ve shared,” said Mark Deane from the University of Technology, Sydney.
“It could also result in providers being forced to hand that information over in bulk to the police.”‘
Unprecedented’ Mr Deane believes that even if the Government is forced to comply with the new laws, they will be able access the data that it already holds.
“There’s been a great deal of speculation about the potential impact of the bill on Australia’s telecommunications industry.
The Government is not in a position to comment,” he said.”
But it seems to be an unprecedented measure, which could be extremely damaging.”
Mr Deane said it could also create a precedent for other nations to look to Australia for their data.
“We’ll see if other countries will follow the same path as Australia, and what will happen in other countries when it comes to data retention,” he added.
“If we’re not prepared to go to the other end of the world to access information, how can we expect Australians to comply?”‘
The most important thing is that we make it easy for people to get access to data’The new laws will apply to companies that provide internet access or mobile phones, but also to businesses, medical facilities, universities, schools and other entities that have “information technology functions”.
“The most crucial thing is we make this a much simpler process for consumers to access the information that they want, because if you have a big data base, you don’t need the kind of regulatory regime that we have in Australia,” Mr Dean said.
But if the legislation goes ahead, Mr Deano said that consumers would have a much more difficult time accessing the information.
“They’d be forced to pay more to access it,” he explained.
“The best case scenario would be that the government would be forced, by law, to make it so that consumers have access to information they need, but that the legislation doesn’t require them to be subject to data-protection obligations.”‘
We should be making data available on a global basis’Data sharing with foreign governments is already a contentious topic, with some countries requiring that their citizens provide personal data on themselves when travelling abroad.
But the new proposed laws would require Australian citizens to provide the same information to foreign authorities, even if they are not in Australia.
“In some countries, it’s an offence to give your data to a foreign government,” Mr deane said.
He said it would be a violation of the right to privacy for Australians to share information about their own communications.
“This will also be a breach of privacy for Australian citizens if they’re not in the country.”
Australia has always had a strong commitment to protecting personal data and we should be doing all we can to make this as easy as possible for Australians in the digital age to access their data,” he concluded.