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Crossbenchers band together on data retention concern

Crossbenchers band together on data retention concern
Media Statement
Greens spokesperson for Communications
Senator for WA Scott Ludlam
October 20, 2014

The Australian Greens, the Liberal Democratic Party and Senator Nick Xenophon have teamed up to hold an event in Parliament House during the next Senate sitting week to step up the campaign against the Government’s proposed mandatory data retention legislation.

Earlier this month, Attorney-General George Brandis told the National Press Club that the Government intended to introduce mandatory data retention “before the end of this year”. 

There are many legitimate cases for law enforcement access to metadata. However, there is widespread concern that the Government has not successfully made its case requiring the metadata of all 23 million Australians to be retained for a period of two years for access by hundreds of agencies. Privacy, cost and security concerns remain unaddressed. 

Senators Ludlam, Leyonhjelm and Xenophon will hold a briefing session at Parliament House on 29 October at 12pm.

The event will feature a number of expert speakers examining the data retention issue. 

A broad spectrum of participants from all sides of politics, industry, government, civil society and the education sector concerned about the issue of data retention are invited to attend. Attending organisations will also be invited to add their support to a statement to Attorney-General George Brandis and Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, to express ongoing concerns with the proposed data retention policy.

One of the first organisations to confirm their attendance was Electronic Frontiers Australia.

“EFA is firmly opposed to any mandatory, society-wide data retention scheme as it would represent a massive invasion of the privacy of all Australians and would also subvert the presumption of innocence,” said EFA executive officer Jon Lawrence.

“Such a scheme will involve substantial costs and very serious risks of highly sensitive information being compromised, thereby posing genuine threats to the safety of many Australians.”

“There are already more than sufficient powers available to Australia's intelligence and law enforcement agencies to have information retained about communications involving 'persons of interest'. There is no justification for this information to be retained on the rest of society. EFA therefore calls on our politicians not to support any mandatory, indiscriminate data retention regime, and to treat law-abiding Australians as Citizens, Not Suspects.”

Senator Ludlam said the broad nature of the opposition to the data retention policy indicated the depth of community concern.


“When you see groups from right across the political spectrum coming together on an issue, you know the Government is out of its depth,” he said. “Both the Coalition and Labor need to re-think their support for this highly controversial policy,” he said.

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