While public concern mounts over U.S. government surveillance via the PRISM program and phone call metadata collection, the Australian government has announced that it has paused to rethink efforts to force internet companies to retain two years of phone and email data, Reuters reports.
A report from a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s telecommunications interception laws has called for adjustments to the proposed policy changes, suggesting that internet browsing data should be excluded from collection, and that greater oversight of government agency access is required.
Upon receipt of the report, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus responded by postponing any changes pending further consultations, which will take place after the September 14 parliamentary election.
The inquiry’s report did not mention PRISM, as it was completed before the leak by NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It seems that Australia was coincidentally taking a pro internet privacy stance on data collection following criticism by privacy advocates in the country.
However unrelated to the recent NSA programs, the report did raise serious concerns over internet privacy in Australia, citing the large number of data requests made by Australian government agencies. Agencies reportedly made 293,501 requests for access to private data in 2011-12 without a warrant.