Mandatory Retention: Who’s Telling The Truth?

While the government is denying that its controversial mandatory retention policy for ISPs would capture individual browsing histories, ISPs who were confidentially briefed on the proposal maintain that’s on the cards, and that the plans are also rife with other issues.

We noted earlier this week that the Attorney-General’s department had denied that individual browsing data would be retained. In a lengthy analysis replete with detailed quotes from unnamed ISPs, Ben Grubb at ZDNet notes that this essentially becomes an argument about technology. The whole piece is well worth a read, but the gist of the argument is that proxy logs (often used to speed up access for individual users) would need to be retained under the proposals discussed under confidentiality agreements with ISPs, providing data on individual visiting habits.

Other possibilities discussed in the proposal include retaining large amounts of data on individual customers, even potentially including passport numbers. It also appears questionable whether the plans would conflict with existing data privacy laws.

As the Internet Industry Association notes in its terse response to the issue, ISPs already routinely co-operate with criminal investigations and provide data. Requiring them to retain everything on the off-chance seems a completely unwarranted invasion of privacy, and a situation rife with potential for abuse.


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