Turnbull and Brandis meet with Telstra to mull metadata

Turnbull and Brandis meet with Telstra to mull metadata

Meeting to discuss "technical parameters" of metadata in relation to data retention policy

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis have met with Telstra to work through the Government's controversial data retention policy.

During yesterday's meeting, the Government and Telstra discussed the technical parameters of "metadata".

Metadata is data about data and there has been some confusion over the meaning in the context of the new data retention policies.

There are generally two types of metadata. Structural metadata is about the design and specification of data structures, and is more properly called data about the containers of data.

Then there is descriptive metadata, which is about individual instances of application data, the data content.

The Government has announced a proposal to make telecommunications companies record the phone and internet metadata of all customers and store it for two years.

There is no definition of the term in legislation and the best guidance telcos have received was in a confidential document provided by the previous government.

Turnbull told Bloomberg the proposals had "gotten ahead of the policy".

"We are in a process of consultation and engagement," he told Bloomberg.

"Metadata means different things to different people, so what we need to do is get to the end of our consultation, conclude the very, very clear parameters of our policy and then we can explain it and justify it."

Senator Brandis also tripped up on Sky News on Wednesday night, when he attempted to explain his definition of metadata.

He said metadata would not include browsing history.

But he then went on to say that telcos would be forced to record the web addresses of every site visited by customers.

He later said that telcos would store the domain names of overarching websites but not the internal links.

Brandis said, under the proposed laws, telcos would also record the identity of the computer visitors used, the time they accessed the site and the duration of the visit, he said.

However, in the context of mobiles, metadata would only include the where the when and the who - not the content of correspondence.

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Tags TelstraAustralian Governmentdata retentionSky NewsBloombergcommunications minister malcolm turnbullAttorney-General George Brandis


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