15 September 2012

Retention Acrobatics

It's difficult to know what to make of the official acrobatics regarding current telecommunication data retention proposals. The Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Act 2012 (Cth) has received assent. The mass media are reporting criticisms by the Law Council of Australia and other entities, including the Ag  Privacy Commissioner of Victoria and this blog's author, of broader proposals for mandatory retention of all traffic data. The Attorney-General is confusing and perhaps simply confused.

Having apparently walked away, in her recent Security in Government speech from apparent disavowal of mandatory retention, she now appears - like Captain Renault in Casablanca - to be shocked, shocked and staggered.

In a letter to The Age she expresses surprise and disappointment that she could be misunderstood, commenting that she hasn't made up her mind. Presumably we are to infer that she hasn't experienced bureaucratic capture, that she's a victim of shabby reporting, making policy on the basis of rolling polls or that her speechwriters and media advisers need to brush up their communications skills.
The Age seems determined to paint me as the cheer squad and number one advocate for all of these reforms. I am not. .... 
The Age has jumped the gun in assuming I’ve made up my mind on these reforms, when I have been absolutely clear that I have not. 
The Attorney-General, regrettably, has not been "absolutely clear". The proposals put forward by the Government are vague, so vague that they involve an inappropriate level of trust. That trust is unlikely to be forthcoming from the legal community, business and civil society advocates when the Attorney-General is busy swooping from trapeze to trapeze and officials are reported as providing comments that are at best quite disingenuous.