Australian authorities don’t want to track web surfing, but they do want bandwidth data

A leaked consultation paper regarding Australia’s upcoming communications data retention laws has shed more light on the government’s plans.

The document shows that, mercifully, the government isn’t intending to force telecommunications firms to store records of which websites their customers are visiting, as the attorney-general had previously stated. IPTV viewing data will also not need to be held.

However, the government does want device identifiers, IP and email addresses, communications duration and location, user names and addresses, date of birth, and billing, payment and contact information – all held up to a maximum of two years.

Rather weirdly, the preliminary consultation paper also calls for service providers to “capture any metrics that describe the use of the account, service or device, such as the available bandwidth, upload volumes and/or download volumes.”

It’s nice to see that surfing data is out of the picture (at least at this preliminary consultation stage), but it’s worth pointing out that the United Nations’ human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has said that any blanket data retention requirement amounts to an unnecessary and disproportionate interference with privacy.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Green Party challenged Attorney General George Brandis to supply parliament with a week’s worth of his own metadata. Brandis refused.