Federal Attorney-General George Brandis has today called for the urgent passing of legislation requiring mandatory retention of metadata following the Martin Place siege and last week’s terror attack in Paris.In an opinion piece in The Australian, Brandis states “no rational person can dispute that the world – and the free and democratic West in particular – faces a profound threat that is likely to be with us for a long time”, detailing the government’s legislative response, comprising four bills.
While three of the bills have been passed, Brandis states the passage of legislation requiring mandatory retention of metadata is an “urgent priority”.
“Access to metadata is vital to investigate terrorism and organised crime,” Brandis writes in the piece.
“The bill does not propose any additional powers for national security agencies. It requires telecommunications companies to retain information they have routinely kept but which they might not keep in future.”
The government last year introduced the mandatory data retention legislation to parliament, with the bill requiring companies providing telecommunications services in Australia, carriers and internet service providers “to keep a limited, prescribed set of telecommunications data for two years”.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated at the time that access to metadata “plays a central role in almost every counter-terrorism, counterespionage, cyber-security and organised crime investigation”, adding it is “also used in almost all serious criminal investigations”.
Parliament is yet to vote on metadata retention, with a Joint Intelligence and Security Committee report due at the end of February.