Australia recently passed data retention laws that force telecommunications companies to retain some types of phone and web metadata. This data can be requested by government agencies and, in fact, has been used to investigate leaks of government information to journalists. Even though it takes a warrant to access a journalist’s metadata to identify a source, this offers little protection. To prove this point, The Guardian developed a simple game to visualize the problems and challenges.

There is a lot of discussion happening around this new law. It is important to remember that though Internet providers and and mobile phone networks will now be required to store customers’ metadata (the sender, recipient, and time of emails and calls), it doesn’t include the content of an email or telephone call.

Melody K. Smith

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