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Concessions Made To Journalists In Metadata Laws

Words by: Jack Dawson

Australia’s proposed metadata laws have once again made news by offering protection and concessions to Journalists. The Mandatory Metadata Retention Legislation would force telecommunication companies to retain and record Metadata. While there isn’t enough room here to describe metadata fully, one of the shortest explanations is that it’s information about your actions online, “such as destination Internet Protocol (IP) addresses or uniform resource locators (URLs).

There has been widespread criticism of the proposed Metadata Laws, from everyday citizens who have taken to spamming George Brandis’ iMessage account, to prominent legal firms who have designated the proposed Metadata Laws as “little more than a shell for a mandatory retention scheme”, to the 600 Internet providers of Australia, half of which will most likely collapse under the new costs of the proposed Metadata laws.

However Tony Abbott has offered a laurel branch to both the Labor party and journalists across Australia, offering unspecified protections and exemptions for Journalists, a measure which Tony Abbott is only willing to include as a means of expediating the Bill’s progress.

While the Labor government have stated that their acceptance of the bill will depend on what amendments are made, the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance Alliance has slammed the measures, with Chief Executive Paul Murphy stating that the amendments still “Allow those agencies to trawl through a journalist’s metadata to expose a confidential source.

It should also be noted that these amendments do not protect Bloggers, Attorney General George Brandis stated that he wouldn’t “consider Journalists as Bloggers.

As for the true targets of the bill, George Brandis maintains that the primary targets are “criminals, Terrorists and Pedophiles”, and the Federal government has reiterated that the purpose of the legislation is to target Terrorism and Organized Crime.

Ultimately, time will tell how this latest story of division and controversy ends, which appears to have become the grand narrative of this government.

Though personally, I think these metadata laws are being introduced to stop videos like this getting around.