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Review of the mandatory data retention regime

The submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (the Committee) in relation to its review of the mandatory data retention regime contained in Part 5-1A of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth) (TIA Act).

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015 (Cth) (Data Retention Act) introduced amendments to the TIA Act to establish a mandatory national data retention regime which commenced on 13 October 2015. The Law Council notes that this statutory review is mandated by section 187N of the TIA Act.

The Law Council acknowledges that the purpose of the regime is to pursue the legitimate objective of investigating and combatting serious crime including terrorism related offending. However, the Law Council considers that access to telecommunications data must be governed by a robust legislative regime to ensure access is only permitted when the public interest in detecting and addressing serious criminal activity outweighs the public interest in ensuring Australians can conduct their lives free from unnecessary intrusion of their privacy by the State. It is important that the regime provides safeguards against the wilful, systematic degradation of human rights in the digital era such as the fundamental human right to privacy.

The Law Council previously provided a submission to the Committee in relation to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 (Data Retention Bill) when it was first introduced to Parliament.2 In that submission, the Law Council opposed the introduction of the mandatory data retention scheme as proposed by the Data Retention Bill.

You can read the submission below.

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