Recently the Federal Parliament voted to give law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to an unprecedented amount of information on all Australians. The Coalition Government and Australian Labor Party passed the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015 requiring telecommunications service providers to store enormous amounts of personal data of every Australian for a minimum of two years under the mandatory data retention scheme.
This has created a mass surveillance regime that will target all Australians at a time when other countries have abandoned this approach, and Australians will likely pay for this increased surveillance through taxes and added phone and Internet charges. This is despite overwhelming evidence that mandatory data retention schemes do not work to cut serious crime and are a real assault on privacy.
The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015 lacks in-depth protection for journalists as well as their sources.
Metadata retention will have a chilling effect on free speech – Malcolm Turnbull, 2012
The question of “who is a journalist?” remains large as the legislation is vague and appears to apply only to professional journalists.
The warrant system leaves journalists and press freedom in the dark. “If you are going after sources then you are going after journalism” – MEAA CEO Paul Murphy
Under the new system journalists would not know whether an application has been made to get access to their retained data, or that this access has been granted, is still extremely concerning.
A journalist’s status should not be determined by their pay, if you are not a paid/professional journalist and believe you deserve the same privacy protections and exemptions from data retention, send a message to the Parliament
Roydon Ng is a freelance journalist, blogger and web designer based from Sydney, Australia.