Ludlam demolishes data retention bill

Scott LudlamAt the end of January, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) held two days of hearings into the government’s data retention legislation (transcripts here and here).

These hearings were at times a testy affair, with a number of Coalition members particularly being openly antagonistic to privacy advocates, including EFA’s Jon Lawrence (see the transcript of EFA’s testimony), while accepting, almost completely uncritically, the largely unsupported assertions of law enforcement agencies, ASIO and the Attorney-General’s Department.

Thankfully, some genuine scrutiny was applied to this legislation at a separate hearing held on Monday 2nd February by the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee (transcript here). EFA also testified to this Committee (see transcript).

Committee Chair, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam did a particularly excellent job of highlighting some of the very significant weaknesses in the legislation, in terms of its coverage and likely effectiveness, and in the justifications presented for it.

His questioning of the representatives from the Attorney-General’s Department is well worth viewing. The highlights are:

Or, if you’ve got a spare 90 minutes, you can watch the whole session.

Posted in Data Retention, Encryption, Surveillance Tagged with: , , , , , ,
3 comments on “Ludlam demolishes data retention bill
  1. geoff says:

    I watch ‘Social media, webmail and data retention’ and specifically in regards email meta-data retention, it seems like Ludlum did not understand the technical context sufficiently to ask the right questions. He seemed to suggest that ‘iinet’ emails would be encompassed but not ‘gmail’ emails; and the response surrounded the issue of ‘entities’. From my understanding ALL AU ISP data would be encompassed regardless of the email being ‘iinet’ or ‘gmail’. Ultimately he seemed to give the issue a ‘pass’.
    So ‘A’ for effort but in my opinion he ate the BS.
    I have not watch the other videos but assume a similar line of inapt questioning and BS answers.
    I must also add that I felt the responder did understand the issue Ludlam was pursuing but was disinclined to be forthcoming. Very disingenuous.
    Overall, in terms of progressing the issue, I would score this an ‘F’.

    • Jon Lawrence says:

      Hi Geoff

      Offshore ‘over-the-top’ service providers, such as Gmail, Skype, Hotmail, Facebook, Twitter etc etc are all explicitly excluded from the data retention regime. Onshore providers who provide communications services across their own networks, such as iiNet, are explicitly included.

      I can assure you that Senator Ludlam is one of the few federal parliamentarians that actually does understand the technology sufficiently to ask the right questions, and I believe he did an outstanding job.


  2. Adam says:

    Of greatest concern to me is this quote from the PJCIS transcript:
    “Mr RUDDOCK: My understanding is that metadata is not used primarily in relation to proving offences against people of interest; it is in fact used to discover who might be of interest to undertake further inquiries. And when you eliminate that as a tool, there will not be anybody of interest.”
    To me, this sounds like widespread data mining of the entire data set to discover potential persons of interest. As the sample of terrorists known to be operating within Australia is probably quite small, this would lead to a large number of false positives, leading to additional intrusion into the lives of innocent people.

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