The Australia Data Retention Act officially goes into effect today. And with it, what many are calling an end to privacy for Australians.
The Data Retention Act requires telcos and ISPS to retain customer metadata for 24 months. As outlined in a CNET article, this data “Includes the name and address of a subscriber to a telco service; the source and destination of communications; the date, time and duration of a communication; the type of communication or service used for connection (think SMS or Wi-Fi); and the location of equipment (such as cell towers) used to make the communication.”
This law raises extreme privacy concerns for citizens of the country, and leaves a great deal of room for law enforcement agencies to access and view consumer data – and to abuse this access. The legislation is also causing confusion among telcos and providers, with reports that many telcos are unprepared for the new rules and confused by their responsibilities under this law. Additionally, there are concerns over the amount of money budgeted for the law, and the potential future costs to the industry and consumers.
The Huffington Post Australia has outlined what the law means day-to-day for Australian citizens in an article – Data Retention: What’s Recorded in a 24-Hour Period.
There is, unsurprisingly, a huge amount of push back against this law from both within and outside the country.
How to Protect your Data
There are some things that can be done to protect your privacy under the new law. A VPN, such as VyprVPN, encrypts your Internet connection. With an encrypted connection, no one (including your ISP) can see the content of your online communications. With VyprVPN you can also change your IP address, choosing from over 50+ locations worldwide. Protect your privacy now – Try VyprVPN Free.
Update: January 7, 2016
The Australian government has announced a $128 million data-retention grants program. This program was launched to address cost concerns related to Australia’s new data retention laws. Titled the “Data Retention Industry Grants Program,” this program will attempt to relive some of the set-up costs to ISPs associated with the new legislation, many of which have fallen onto consumers to cover. Despite this investment, there are still many concerns that ISPs (and small ISPs in particular) may go out of business if they are not fully reimbursed for the costs of compliance. As reported by ZDNet, “telcos were split almost 50-50 on whether they requested from the government partial or full reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of fulfilling data-retention obligations.” Applications for grants are due on February 23.