Two-thirds of Australians are cool with the government's metadata laws

While the media and Greens have raised major concerns about the Abbott government’s metadata laws, which were passed in the Senate last night with the support of Labor, it seems the vast majority of Australians don’t have a problem with them.

Polling by Lowy Institute shows that data retention (metadata) laws, which require telcos to retain your web browsing history, phone call records and the details of when and to whom text messages are sent, for a minimum of two years, were backed as justified by 63% of adults.

The Institute asked whether “legislation which will require Australian telecommunications companies to retain data about communications such as phone calls, emails and internet usage, but not their content” and nearly two-thirds agreed it was “justified as part of the effort to combat terrorism and protect national security”.

Only one-third (33%) say it “went too far in violating citizens’ privacy” and was not justified.

Younger, more digitally connected Australians, aged 18-29, were more likely to think it was unjustified, with 47% taking that stand, however 50% of the age group still felt it was justified.

Lowy Institute executive director Dr Michael Fullilove said it showed people were prepared to accept invasions of privacy in the name of national security.

“This result is consistent with 2013 Lowy Institute polling which found that most Australians believed the government had struck about the right balance between protecting the rights of citizens and fighting terrorism,” he said.

The full version of the poll, taken from a telephone survey of 1200 people in late February/early March, will be released in June.

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