The Federal Senate standing committee on Environment, Communication and the Arts is set to investigate the Government’s plans to force ISPs to store the web browsing histories of all Australian users.
According to the inquiry’s terms of reference, the committee will investigate the “adequacy of protections for the privacy of Australian online” and report back by October 20 in the following categories:
- Data collection activities of Government agencies
- Data collection activites of private companies
- Privacy protections and data collection on social networking sites
- Other related issues
According to the Australian Greens communications spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, his party’s efforts were a major reason for inquiry’s establishment.
“Recent events have proven that Australians face a multitude of challenges in protecting their privacy online: whether it be social networking sites and search engines harvesting personal data…or Government agencies snooping for their own obscure purposes,” he said in a statement.
“The Government is investigating options to compel ISPs to collect the web browsing history of all Australians, for purposes which are not at all clear.”
Liberal Party member and deputy chair of the Joint Select Committee on Cyber Safety, Alex Hawke, has also expressed concern about the Government’s plans.
“The Government’s heavy-handed approach on the Internet is becoming a problem,” he said. “Concern is growing [in my party] as the Government reveals more of its intentions in relation to the Net, such as OzLog.”
But the new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has promised the election will be held by the end of this year, making it unclear if the Senate will have time to complete its inquiry.