Second time lucky for the Data Retention Act?

The Federal Government has prepared a new bill that will define what data telecom operator will have keep about their customers’ telephone and internet use. The new bill is a revised version of the Data Retention Act. The Federal Government believes that it is important that information about our email and mobile phone traffic is retained.

A month and a half ago the Constitutional Court quashed a law on the retention of data on our electronic communications.

Although the government has draft a revised version of the bill it says that it is not possible to select whose emails and mobile phone traffic should be recorded.

Significant changes

The new bill has been significantly revised. It stipulates that the judicial authorities will be able to access the data only if more “privacy friendly means have been exhausted.

A second modification affects who will be allowed access to the information. Thirdly, the bill provides for a distinction to be made between four different types of data and provides a length of time for which each of these can be kept. Doctors, solicitors and journalists will be given special protection as their communications data falls under professional confidentiality rules.

The telecom companies will have three weeks to comment on the bill. Then the Privacy Commission will be able to have its say as will Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA). The Francophone Bar Council warns that the bill will face a lot of opposition in its current form.

A month ago, at the request of the Human Rights League the Constitutional Court overturned a law that allowed that telecom operators to keep data about their customers mobile phone and email traffic for one year.

One of the main bones of contention was that everyone’s data was being kept and not just the data from people that had committed certain crimes.