These hearings were at times a testy affair, with a number of Coalition members particularly being openly antagonistic to privacy advocates, including EFA's Jon Lawrence (see the transcript of EFA's testimony), while accepting, almost completely uncritically, the largely unsupported assertions of law enforcement agencies, ASIO and the Attorney-General's Department.
Thankfully, some genuine scrutiny was applied to this legislation at a separate hearing held on Monday 2nd February by the Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee (transcript here). EFA also testified to this Committee (see transcript).
Committee Chair, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam did a particularly excellent job of highlighting some of the very significant weaknesses in the legislation, in terms of its coverage and likely effectiveness, and in the justifications presented for it.
His questioning of the representatives from the Attorney-General's Department is well worth viewing. The highlights are:
- The evidence for data retention?
- Social media, webmail and data retention
- The costs of data retention?
- Not defining 'data' in data retention laws
- Data retention and the drive toward encrypted technology
- Circumventing data retention
Or, if you've got a spare 90 minutes, you can watch the whole session.
If you agree that this legislation represents an unnecessary and disproportionate invasion of the privacy of all Australians and subverts the principle of the presumption of innocence, please support our Citizens, Not Suspects campaign.