When Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Tony Negus told a parliamentary hearing yesterday that he would ideally like telecommunications customer data kept indefinitely, it was clear that he was engaged in bargaining with the government.
"We would like to have it indefinitely, and if we had [our way], we would definitely like to see this held indefinitely, and then we can go back and reconstruct issues or crime scene events that happened many, many years ago. But we understand that is not practical in the context of costs associated with that," he told the committee.
He revealed that the AFP and other law enforcement agencies had asked the Attorney-General's Department to keep so-called telecommunications metadata for longer — between five and seven years — but the department said that two years was more appropriate, given the privacy concerns and costs associated with implementing the changes. When the government released its discussion paper on the telecommunications reform proposals earlier this year, the backlash to even two years was strong.
Since then, telecommunications companies have flagged that — based on the European experience with data retention — six months is a more appropriate length of time to retain the data.
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