The Minister representing the Attorney-General in the Senate, Senator Penny Wong, has claimed any data retained by the Government will not include the content of communications.
The denial comes after industry criticism of the Government's proposal to record the Web browsing details of every Internet user in Australia, in line with similar moves in Europe.
“Data might include information that could identify parties to a communication, where and when the communication was made and the duration,” she said. “But I understand it would not extend into the content of the communication.
“The Government is keen to ensure access to this data is retained in this new communications environment.”
The answer was made in response to a question on the issue from Australian Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlam during Monday's Senate sitting.
But when asked specifically about the industry’s feedback on the cost and technical implications of “recording everybody’s web-browsing histories”, Wong did not reject the possibility.
“Your question really goes to what the final detail of any proposal would indicate,” she said. “It’s vital any data retention regime strike the correct balance between individual privacy, commercial imperatives and community expectations and unlawful behaviour is investigated and prosecuted.”
Ludlam also asked if the Government would consult with the public on the issue, but was instead told by Wong it was in talks with the office of the Privacy Commissioner.
“The Government would ensure any proposal would be consistent with the Privacy Act and the Government’s privacy reforms,” she said.