Much digital ink has been spilled about Australia’s new data retention laws. The popular media has made claims that the government will be able to tell when internet users are using Facebook messenger, and will know what websites users are visiting. These new measures might be kind of scary if they were at all true. The only information that the government requires ISPs to keep about their clients is when users are active and what their IP addresses are. ISPs are obligated to store this information for two years.
The new laws also apply to phone call and SMS records. While the actual content of calls and texts will not be stored, a record of which numbers Australians call or text will be stored for two years. This information was already being retained, but previously it was just used by phone companies for billing purposes.
The most dramatic changes caused by the laws will be in how information about emails will be stored. Emails will now be handled the same as text messages, meaning information about sender and recipient will be stored for two years while the message body will be thrown away. This is only true for ISP-provided email accounts though, so if you have privacy concerns you can switch to a different email service.
Overall, the new laws don’t pose the Big Brother-style threat to privacy that some alarmist media sources have claimed they do. For the most part, Australians can browse online without fearing that the government is looking over their shoulders.
Read the full article here: Everything You’ve Been Told About Data Retention is Wrong