Friday, October 31, 2014

Telcos cautious on Coalition's metadata push

The Coalition government’s surprise move to introduce the draft mandatory data retention laws to parliament has elicited a cautious response from the telecommunications industry, with the telcos urging further clarity on the technical and financial details underpinning the proposed regime.

The proposed laws will require telcos and internet service providers to keep, according to the Coalition, a limited set of metadata for two years.

Under the laws, a person's web browsing history would not be captured, nor would service providers be allowed to keep detailed location records tracking a person's movements.

“Service providers will not be required to retain the content or substance of any communication, including subject lines of emails or posts on social media sites,” Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Thursday.

“The Act will expressly exclude a person’s web-browsing history, and providers will not be required to keep detailed location records that could allow a person’s movements to be tracked, akin to a surveillance device.”

The government has also said that the bill does not provide any additional powers to law enforcement or intelligence agencies and does not give them any capacity to access metadata beyond what they already have.

The government’s commitment to make a "substantial contribution" to cover company costs, along with the reduction in the range of agencies which can access metadata have so far been the two components the telcos are most pleased about.

Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton said the government is at least taking the concerns of the industry seriously.

“We welcome the move to restrict the number of agencies that can access metadata and the indication from government that it is willing to make a substantial contribution to the cost imposts on service providers that may flow from the creation of the data retention regime,” Mr Stanton said.

Scope creep a real worry

However, there’s evidently plenty of ground that still needs to be covered, with many issues still in need of refinement before any regime can be put in place.

“These might include whether it is necessary or appropriate for all data to be stored for as long as two years, and how to adequately deal with the complexity of over-the-top services such as messaging platforms which generate many forms of metadata that originate and terminate on many different applications,” Mr Stanton said.

He also warned that there was a legitimate fear of ‘scope creep’ over time that merits serious consideration.

It’s a sentiment shared by the most vocal critic of the Coalition’s proposed laws- iiNet.

The internet service provider’s chief regulatory officer Steve Daly warned that the ‘devil is certainly in the detail’ with an urgent need for clear definition of terms, including what type of personal information may be captured by this proposed legislation.

“Although we are encouraged by a move away from some more Orwellian aspects of the government’s data surveillance proposal, we maintain there is no urgency for this bill to be passed,” Mr Dalby said.

However, there’s evidently plenty of ground that still needs to be covered, with many issues still in need of refinement before any regime can be put in place.

“These might include whether it is necessary or appropriate for all data to be stored for as long as two years, and how to adequately deal with the complexity of over-the-top services such as messaging platforms which generate many forms of metadata that originate and terminate on many different applications,” Mr Stanton said.

He also warned that there was a legitimate fear of ‘scope creep’ over time that merits serious consideration.

What the big 3 have to say

The big three carriers – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone- are also toeing the line carefully for the time being.

Telstra said that in a sector with rapid technological change, it makes sense to look at clarifying the obligations on industry.

“In introducing the legislation today we welcome the process outlined by the Government to resolve outstanding issues.  It continues the commitment they have shown in industry consultation in recent weeks to meet national security objectives, while minimising the impact on industry and consumers,” a Telstra spokesperson said.

Optus and Vodafone have been somewhat less effusive with their praise with both pushing for further resolution off concerns around the scope of data retention.

According to The Australian Financial Review, Vodafone Australia’s director of strategy and corporate affairs Dan Lloyd has warned that the implication of the regime on the Internet of Things (IoT) need to be taken into account

Speaking at the Ovum 2020 Telecoms Summit, Mr Lloyd warned that details from automated systems, known as machine-to-machine, could potentially be captured under the regime, the AFR reports.

'Surveillance tax' fears sprout 

While the Coalition has taken some of the telco industry’s concerns on board, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull’s words have done little to placate those incensed by the implications of the law on civil liberties.

Greens senator Scott Ludlam told reporters in Canberra that the proposed data retention regime will not only mean ‘mild, real-time, passive surveillance’ but also inevitably hurt consumers financially.
"It's imposing a cost on people that they don't want to pay," Mr Ludlam said.

Senator Ludlam believes the legislation goes too far, even though he acknowledges intelligence agencies are seeking greater surveillance powers for anti-terrorism and law enforcement operations.

"At some point you have to draw a line. We are drawing the line at mandatory data retention."

With a draft data set and the bill set to be referred to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security for review before it’s passed, the opposition has also weighed into the debate, with opposition communications spokesman Jason Clare saying that the complexity of the proposed regime warranted stringent scrutiny.

"We need to look at this over a couple of months, not a couple of weeks, and the parliamentary committee will have myself on it as well as Mark Dreyfus," Mr Clare said.

Mr Clare said that the data retention issue was broader than national security, with privacy implications and the potential to increase the cost of internet bills.

He added that it was disappointing that the Coalition decided against consulting the opposition and the Australian people before introducing the bill.

heraldsun.com.au 30 Oct 2014

Unbeknown to the general populous, but well known within the legal community, another UNLAWFUL law being passed through.

Part of the Police State agenda to monitor then later control the movements of the masses.

Australia the modern day Alcatraz.

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