Mandatory Data Retention In The World
Many Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) around the world keep driving strong regulations that require ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and telecommunication companies to increasingly track, collect and keep records that document all online activities of millions of internet users. The collected records can be passed to each countries or locations government agencies for investigation, which would be damaging users’ privacy, security, anonymity and expression in the online space.
How Does Data Retention Work
All Internet Service Providers around the world give their subscribers IP addresses that keep changing systematically. Data retention regulations make these ISPs and Telco providers to store the collected records of the IP addresses for a definite period of time. This allows government agencies to pass the records of the individuals for a certain date or time period.
What Is A Metadata
It doesn’t have a specific definition for metadata term, it can stand for any data that is generated using a technology. Anything that users do on their mobile devices (like the iPhone and Android smartphones) as well as computers. All your activity online through these devices are recorded and kept as metadata.
Why To Care
Mandatory Data Retention Regulations affect millions of regular internet users, it makes them to compromise their online privacy and anonymity which can be especially crucial for people who are involved in political speech, also journalists are very impacted as well as not forgetting the investigators and everyone who’s involved in any kind of activity that is considerate to be illegal. Data retention schemes are very expensive, interfering and it also harms the human right of their privacy and freedom of expression.
The regulations require ISPs and telecom companies to build extensive databases of detailed information about users’ communication (with whom, mode of communication, whether it was via phone or internet), also it requires to keep the duration of the communications and location of the user. This scheme makes ISPs and telecom providers to collect your IP address and retain it in case government authorities seek for this information.
Online privacy isn’t only thing users have to compromise with, there are also high costs involved in keeping this information. Usually service providers are required to cover the cost involved, therefore, to maintain these databases users would get affected by the subscription fee increase.
How A VPN Connection Can Protect Your Metadata
The best way how to protect your online data from being stored by your service provider is to subscribe to a VPN provider. VPNs encrypt your data through your internet connection and allocates you with a new secure IP address to protect your metadata, keeps your internet identity private and anonymous.
By connecting and using a VPN at all times you can protect your metadata, surf internet privately and communicate with your friends without giving your data out to any authorities. When you are connected to a VPN provider, your internet service provider can see that you are using the service, but cannot see and track your activities thus keeping your data away from any spying eye.
Data Retention in Australia
In October 13, 2015 Australian Government introduced Data Retention Laws in Australia. Since then every phone call, text message and email you send will be tracked and kept by the government based on the new metadata retention scheme. This scheme was implemented to protect the country and its citizens from organized crime and terrorism. However, it has also been creating strong debates between Australia’s citizens as it strongly violate their privacy and freedom of expression online.
What Does This Mean For Australian Citizen
One of the biggest questions of the Australian people is what data will be collected and who will have an access to it. There is no specific answer to it yet, however, ISPs and telecom service providers are required to collect following user information:
- Name, address, billing information
- Phone number
- IP address
- Email address
- Download and Upload Volumes
- Communication details including the source, destination, time and duration
- Type of service used, this can include sms, social media like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter and others
- Location of the telecommunication device or other equipment
Who Receives The Access To Collected Metadata:
- The Australian Customs and Boarder Protection Service
- Commonwealth, state and territory police forces, major crime and anti corruption commissions
- All other criminal law enforcement authorities
How Is This Affecting Australian Citizens
Data retention policy can be intimidating to every Australian, as your every online step is watched. Imagine yourself being in a “Big Brother House” show with thousands of cameras recording every step you take. The Data Retention scheme makes every Australian to feel like in a live tv show only by doing your regular actions in an online space.
If you fall in one of these categories, we highly advise you using a VPN connection as well:
In Australia smartphone is used more than other device therefore it has become much easier to access metadata. Every action that you take on your phone is recorded, these include information like the emails you have sent, what files you have downloaded, pictures taken and uploaded, GPS information, online check-ins, browsed websites. All of this information can gather metadata that will create an accurate profile of each smartphone user. To keep your data private, subscribe to a provider that has a VPN software for your iPhone or Android devices.
Using a VoIP all your information will be collected by ISPs. However, you can avoid this by connecting to a good VPN speed provider and this way your data won’t be retained. One of the most popular VoIP that you use is Skype. If you use Skype and VPN service together, your data will be safe.
P2P file sharing and downloading online
Using torrents can put you in real trouble. Using uTorrent, BitTorrent or any other downloading tool combined with a VPN, it will keep you away from the government authorities.
Social Media Users
Using any of the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other other; when you make a comment, like something, post an image, the metadata of this in automatically generated and information like time, date and location is collected and stored. Only content like your communication, images that you’ve posted and other messages aren’t collected and it cannot be accessed by any authorities. Getting VPN access you will be able to save your online data from any interested parties.
Information like the source and destination of the email communication will be generated as metadata. Internet browser, if you are an Australian who enjoys using internet throughout the day, then you should choose a VPN subscription that has a fast data encryption to protect yourself from meta data retention in Australia.
These are a few good reasons for you to think about your online privacy and look into signing up with some of the best virtual private network providers like SaferWeb VPN, ExpressVPN, VyprVPN, PureVPN, IPVanish and other. It will allow you to hide your internet traffic by encrypting your internet connection. We have compiled a list of the best VPNs for Australia that have servers in Australia and many other locations. To learn more about what is a VPN and to find out more about its features like how to unblock geo-restricted websites (Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Pandora Radio and other), which are the best VPNs for remote access, streaming of videos, visit our home page which provides full information.
I’m a freelance writer living in Canada. Highly interested in topics on technology, online surveillance, and censorship. Love traveling and outdoor activities.