Monday, June 14, 2010

Australian Govt: "This is Not About Web Browser History"

Via -

The office of Attorney-General Robert McLelland today denied that a controversial data retention policy being considered by his department could see Australians' web browsing history tracked by internet service providers.

"This is not about web browser history," said McLelland's media liaison Adam Siddique in a brief telephone conversation. "It's purely about being able to identify and verify identities online," he added, linking the initiative to the ability for law enforcement to track criminals.

On Friday the Attorney-General's Department confirmed it had been examining the European Directive on Data Retention to consider whether it would be beneficial for Australia to adopt a similar regime. The directive requires telcos to record and retain data such as the source, destination and timing of all emails and telephone calls — even including internet telephony.

Siddique's statement contradicts claims by internet service (ISP) provider sources that the Australian version of the directive could extend as far as tracking the web browsing history of all Australians, with one of those sources telling ZDNet Australia that such a regime "would be scary and very expensive".

Another source said the regime being considered by the Australian Government could see data held for much longer than EU Directive time of 24 months — it would be more like five or ten years.

"We're talking browsing history and emails, way beyond what I would consider to be normal SMS, retaining full browsing history and everything," that source said.

However, Siddique declined to disclose further details of what the department was considering or when any public consultation on the matter might be held, directing further questions to the department, which has already declined to comment on more specific details of the consultation.

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