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Government's data retention plans blacked out

The Australian Greens have expressed dismay at the Federal Government's refusal to reveal details of consultations with industry over plans to force Internet Service Providers to store web browsing histories of all Australian internet users.

 The Attorney-Generals Department has said in an FOI request by Fairfax Media that release of the information is contrary to public interest and may lead to premature unnecessary debate, which could prejudice and impede govt decision making.

 Around 90 per cent of the released documents have been blacked out.

 "This excuse is extraordinary. Why is the Department making such an effort to keep this information hidden?" asked Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam.

 "The Government has denied web browser history would be required to be logged, saying it would only be data about a communication not the content of the communication.

 "This is defined as: This includes information about the identity of the sending and receiving parties (A and B parties), when a communication started and stopped, and the type of communication.

 "Surely this constitutes web browsing histories by anyone's language?

 "Instead of playing semantics the Government should allow an open discussion in the development of the best possible policy regime.

 "I only hope the Attorney-General's Department is more forthcoming and transparent in the course of the Senate Inquiry into online privacy which the Greens initiated," Senator Ludlam said.

 Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0417 174 302

 The adequacy of protections for the privacy of Australians online: Submissions should be received by 23 July 2010. The reporting date is 20 October 2010.

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