Your Digital Privacy Is Changing Overnight

Oct 12, 2015
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written by Dominic Woolrych

Monday 12 October 2015

Although it was formally approved as law on 13 April 2015, a substantial part of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015 comes into force tomorrow, the 13th of October 2015.

For the fun-loving Lawpath-ers, here’s a a great illustration by Huffington Post Australia of how the new law might operate in your daily life.

Here is what you need to know:

1. Data retention in the spotlight

From a consumer viewpoint, the level of encryption that communications platforms like WhatsApp and iMessage appeals to our privacy-conscious nature, especially in this information age.

However, the increasing ability to keep information private is a double-edged sword. National security and law enforcement agencies from the FBI to the MI5 are increasingly concerned about the ability of extremists using these platforms to circumnavigate detection.

Interestingly, the Obama Administration recently decided not to seek new laws that would have required tech companies to give the government ‘backdoor’ access to encrypted information.

2. What is the aim of this amendment?

National security and law enforcement concerns are at the forefront of this amendment. While it does not give the government access to all information and data, it provides a first-step intelligence source that can be used to determine if more “intrusive investigative tools” should be used. This information can also be used for evidence for prosecuting individuals.

Service providers including communications providers, carriers, and internet service providers are required to keep certain data and documents related to the provision of the services for a period of 2 years.

3. Telecommunications data/information versus content

Telecommunications data/information, not content, will be stored by service providers.

To differentiate, data/information includes certain details of your communication like the date, time and source, will be stored. Content refers to the substance of your communication, like the message in your email, the words in your Google search or the media in your social media post.

For example, my service provider will retain data showing that I use my mobile device to access the internet from my home every morning at 6am, but wouldn’t know that I enjoy keeping up to date with the latest news on The Bachelorette (until now).

4. How safe is your data?

The service providers are required to encrypt any information and data they keep, and protect it from any unauthorised access or interference. The law is stringent about the measures that the service providers take to provide a high-level of information security.

Tell us about how you feel about the new data retention laws by tagging us @lawpath and/or #lawpath.

If you would like to learn more, feel free to have a chat with us on 1800 LAWPATH.

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