Data retention policy debate in Australia

The Australian government passed the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act in 2015, which required telecommunications companies to retain data on their customers' communications for two years. Data retention has proved controversial, and the years before the Act's passing saw multiple parliamentary inquiries and public debates about the merits of such legislation and its impact on national security, civil liberties, and privacy.

This keyword collection hosts content added to APO relevant to Australia's data retention debate and was initiated by Monica La Macchia as part of her internship with APO in 2016.

Journal article

14 Mar 2017


In 2015, the Australian government passed the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act, which requires ISPs to collect metadata about their users and store this metadata for two years. From its conception, Australia’s data retention scheme has been controversial. In...


15 Sep 2016

What is the impact of state surveillance on journalism? This paper by Lisa Main, a journalist for ABC, and a member of their investigative unit, aims to contribute to the debate.

The mandatory bulk collection of data by governments presents liberal democracies with a...


18 Apr 2016

This paper was released on 18 April 2016 to assist participants in preparing a submission to the public inquiry into Data Availability and Use. It outlines a range of issues about which the Commission is seeking information.

Initial submissions are due by Friday 29...


6 Oct 2015

The Citizens, Not Suspects campaign aims to fight the proposals of mandatory data retention legislation in Australia.

On 13th October 2015, the mandatory data retention legislation comes into force in Australia, but the implementation process is in disarray. As the next election approaches we...


14 May 2015

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 30 October 2014. The Bill immediately engendered criticism and controversy that continued through its passage through Parliamentary Committees and debates. Notwithstanding those criticisms and a number of critical...

Discussion paper

28 Apr 2015

Australian government recently passed a bill on a new data retention plan that obliges telecommunications providers to keep customers' communications metadata for two years in order to provide national law enforcement and security agencies with resources necessary for fighting cyber crime. In this white paper,...


26 Mar 2015


Implements recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s (PJCIS) Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation by amending the: Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 to: require telecommunications service providers to retain and to...


25 Mar 2015

The Senate could pass the Government's controversial new meta data laws as early as tonight - but not before the Greens attempt to move more than a dozen amendments to try and beef up privacy safeguards.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has provided a list...


24 Mar 2015

This inquiry, coinciding with the inquiry into mandatory data retention, examined the need for comprehensive reform of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 in light of changes in technology as well as privacy concerns.

The referral

On 12 December 2013, the...


24 Mar 2015

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull joins RN Breakfast to discuss the Government's controversial metadata laws and putting media reform back on the political agenda.


Malcolm Turnbull, Communications Minister


Producer: Alison Carabine


13 Mar 2015

The Abbott Government says its proposed metadata retention laws are critical to fighting crime and terrorism.

But similar schemes in Europe have been wound back following legal challenges.

This week the District Court of The Hague scrapped the Netherlands’ data retention law, finding...


27 Feb 2015

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) today released its report on the government’s proposed metadata retention laws .

The report makes a number of recommendations to revise and clarify the proposed bill, including:

offering monetary compensation for service providers to...


27 Feb 2015

This report recommends the Federal Government introduce a data retention scheme, but also recommends several changes to the proposed legislation.


24 Jun 2013

This report presents the results of an inquiry into several proposed changes to Australia's national security legislation, including the potential introduction of a mandatory data retention scheme.

24 Jun 2013

A key review of proposals to strengthen national security laws has opted against recommending mandatory data retention, and suggested a strictly limited scheme if governments do consider one.

Parliament’s joint committee on intelligence and security has failed to endorse a data retention regime as...


24 Oct 2012

This background note outlines the types of communications data generated by use of the Internet, email and phones, why law enforcement agencies want it retained, and what existing access law enforcement agencies have to such data.

The Government’s interest in establishing a...

9 Aug 2012

A few days ago, Anonymous activists hacked into AAPT, stole 40GB of data including customer information and forced offline ten Australian government websites, write Mark Gregory in The Conversation .

Anonymous members stated in an online internet relay chat (IRQ) interview with...

3 Aug 2012

The government has launched an inquiry into the powers of intelligence agencies, and already there are worrying signs, write Jennifer Goh and Nicola McGarrity in Inside Story . It is vital that civil liberties are a core issue in this debate


Discussion paper

9 Jul 2012

This discussion paper contains a package of proposals for telecommunications interception reform, telecommunications sector security reform and Australian intelligence community legislation reform.



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