blog You might think the proposal by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department for ISPs to maintain metadata for two years pertaining to virtually every communication made by every Australian online was pretty draconian … but it turns out the nation’s cadre of police forces actually want more — a lot more. According to the ABC and a plethora of other media outlets reporting from parliamentary hearings yesterday (we recommend you click here for the ABC version and there’s more on Google News), Australia’s friendly police want to keep that data … forever:
“The spies and police want radical new powers, including forcing telecommunication providers to keep information indefinitely, but the Government’s proposal would restrict them to two years of data retention.”
Some commentators have said that this approach by Australia’s police forces should have been expected. But personally I feel shocked and appalled. Are these the people who are supposed to be protecting Australians? Really? And yet, they want to maintain records, forever, on every communication that every Australian makes on the Internet? The size of that type of database would run astronomically huge, and contain enough data to build up a comprehensive picture of what every Australian did with their lives — down to the little details. The potential for abuse and scope creep would be incredible.
It doesn’t look like this kind of “indefinite” data retention is likely to get up at this point. But if the current data retention proposal gets approved, one can imagine an eventual “minor” legislative change to see the period data is held extended indefinitely. And this would be a very, very scary thing. You’ve heard of ‘Big Data’? Well, imagine if Big Brother gets his hands on Big Data, about everyone in Australia. Now that’s a big problem.