It’s time to delete mandatory data retention once and for all

From today, both the Coalition and Labor are on notice. If either tries to legislate a mandatory data retention policy into existence, they will become the target of an enduring campaign driven by organisations from across the political spectrum.

After five years of debate, it is time for all sides of politics to acknowledge that the Australian public will not stand for a mandatory data retention policy keeping track of every aspect of their lives. It is time to kill the mandatory data retention policy once and for all.

This week's blundering attempt by Tony Abbott and his embarrasing Attorney General George Brandis to enforce a mandatory data retention policy including all website visits has crossed a line, and will be fiercely challenged.

 Warrantless metadata snooping is already out of control in Australia, with dozens of agencies accessing Australian metadata more than 320,000 times last year without needing to apply for a single warrant. 

The Government radically upped the ante this week with a proposal to force providers to log everything from location data to web traffic for every device used by every man, woman and child in the country. Thus far they have been unable to explain the scope, cost, technical workability or purpose for this open-ended surveillance dragnet.

The data retention plans should be considered in the context of proposals to further expand ASIO's powers and legal immunities, the criminalisation of journalism and whistleblowing.

The last time a similar broad-based campaign flared up in Australia was to confront Labor's mandatory internet filter. After five years of constant antagonism, Labor was eventually forced to give up and abandon the policy.