Mandatory data retention legislation that costs over $300 million dollars to implement, and around 15 cents a day to circumvent, was due to come into effect today, but most Internet Service Providers have not received a response from the Attorney-General's Department about the plans they were required to submit, Australian Greens Deputy Leader and Communications Spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said today.
"Instead of reinvesting in their businesses to meet the growing digital demands of Australians, ISPs are paying lawyers to try to decipher the data retention scheme and ensure their compliance with legislation that is vague and unclear.
"Smaller ISPs that serve regional communities may be forced out of business due to the expense that complying with this legislation has forced upon them. This implementation is Attorney-General George Brandis' latest disaster.
"While implementation is both complex and costly to taxpayers and ISPs, the scheme is almost trivially easy to bypass for anyone motivated to do so. And there is no evidence - none - that these kinds of mass surveillance regimes have improved clearance rates for law enforcement or stopped the kinds of attacks that were supposedly the reason for the scheme being introduced.
"A few months ago, Prime Minister Turnbull, in his previous role as the Communications Minister and one of the principle architects of the scheme, outlined several ways that Australians who value their privacy can get around his own data retention laws.
"Any number of readily available voice and messaging apps fall outside the scope of the legislation. Free email addresses from overseas providers aren't covered by the legislation. A subscription to an easy to use Virtual Private Network (VPN) service costs less than 15 cents a day, and ensures almost any data trail you leave is invisible to the scheme," Senator Ludlam said.
"Whilst we encourage people to take greater precautions to guard against even more invasive surveillance from the Five Eyes nations, the simple steps helpfully articulated by Prime Minister Turnbull will render his own scheme worthless. The government of a democracy like Australia should not be spying on every single citizen. I encourage everyone to take these simple measures to protect their privacy.