DISASTER: The Attorney-General's Agonising Attempt To Explain Australia's Plans For Data Retention

In a confusing interview with Sky News, Attorney-General George Brandis has explained the federal government wanted to monitor and retain online data logs for up to two years but “what you’re viewing on the internet is not what we’re interested in”.

His proposal would see Australian telecommunication companies collect and hold phone and internet data for up to two years, giving law enforcement agencies unprecedented access to consumer information without the need for a warrant.

After admitting that the websites people visited would be captured and recorded, Brandis contradicted his statements by saying the policy wouldn’t extend to web surfing.

“What will be caught is the web address people communicate to… the web address is part of the metadata,” Brandis attempted to explain.

“What the security agencies want to know, to be retained, is the electronic address of the website. When a connection is made between one computer terminal and a web address, that fact, the time of the connection, and the duration of the connection is what we mean by metadata in that context.”

Still not sure what metadata is? Here’s how the Prime Minister attempted to describe the proposed data retention process.

Tony Abbott said the policy would capture “the sites you’re visiting”.

“All we want is for the telecommunications companies to continue to keep the person sending the information, the person to whom the information is being sent, the time it was sent and the place it was sent from,” he added.

The PM’s office has since clarified that browsing history is considered content, not metadata, and authorities will require a warrant to access it.

On iiNet’s blog last month, the Internet Service Provider said “we should not be forced to collect, store or match personal information on behalf of third parties – our only obligation is to retain the information necessary to provide, maintain and bill for services.”

Check out Twitter’s response to the blunder and watch the clip below.

Here’s the video.

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