The government’s metadata legislation looks set to pass through parliament after Labor agreed to support the bill with some minor amendments.
Fairfax Media reports the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s report into the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 will be backed by the ALP, despite earlier wariness about the government’s plan.
Prime minister Tony Abbott has estimated that the cost to telecommunications firms for data retention will be around $400 million. That cost is expected to be passed on to consumers.
Labor has agreed with the government’s proposal to force telcos to retain telecommunications metadata for a minimum of two years, as well as the types of data retained. But details of the scope of the new laws and how it will be implemented remain scant and it now seems the legislation will pass without public consultation.
However, the definition of metadata will be formally set out in the Bill, so no additions can be made without parliamentary approval.
Also, the Attorney-General will no longer have the authority to add agencies to the list of those with approved access to data gathered. And the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will be added to assist with investigations.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will also be added to the list of those exempt from obtaining warrants to access the information.
Earlier this month Tony Abbott wrote a letter to Bill Shorten seeking bipartisan support on the metadata legislation “at the earliest opportunity”.
Last week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government’s data retention plans will play a vital role in protecting children against abuse.