Why we think the Australian Data Retention Law is a terrible idea

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Over the past few weeks, Australian Internet users have been troubled by the implications of Parliament passing the mandatory metadata retention bill.

Users have been desperately searching for methods to hide their digital footprints, as the passing of the bill in late March grants the Australian government the power to spy on its citizens.

The new law requires all telecommunication service providers, including ISPs, to retain user data for up to two years. This includes all computer metadata, phone numbers and addresses. The law also allows government officials and third-party agencies outside of Australia to access this data without a warrant.

ExpressVPN is disappointed by this threat to freedom of speech and privacy. As a strong advocate for Internet privacy and digital rights, we believe that this is a step backwards by the Australian government.

Australian users are contemplating their Internet privacy after last week’s Federal Court decision allowed Dallas Buyers Club LLC to round up 4,637 Australians who had downloaded its film. Not surprisingly, Internet users in Australia are furious with the Federal Court’s decision to pressure ISPs to hand over the personal details of their customers.

Also this week, Australia’s Communications Alliance released a final version of its “three strikes” industry code, whose aim is to tackle the problem of online piracy in Australia. Under the code, Internet users have three “strikes” before they might face legal action from copyright holders, and their ISP may be forced to hand over their details.

These recent attacks to online privacy and digital rights have compelled Australian users to fight back by using VPNs to their hide IPs and to keep their online activities private. These data-retention laws apply to Internet service providers and telecommunications companies. We, on the other hand, are a VPN provider, and we don’t log traffic.

ExpressVPN is a vocal advocate for Internet freedom. It saddens us to see the Internet rights of Australians being slowly eroded. That said, we believe in creating great products to help users enhance their digital privacy. We have also taken steps to support like-minded organizations and initiatives such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, and the Internet Defense League.

So what happens next? Although the metadata retention laws have already been passed in Australia, we should never stop defending our digital rights. Australian Internet users can empower themselves first and foremost by staying informed. Not tech-savvy? Refer to our Internet Privacy guides to read up on the basics of Internet privacy. Want something a little more advanced? Check out the EFF’s comprehensive Surveillance Self Defence guides and stop people from spying on you.

ExpressVPN remains committed to helping Internet users — in Australia and worldwide — by continuing to find ways to improve Internet privacy through improving our VPN services, and by lending our knowledge and voice to the global fight against metadata retention.

Featured image: kuzmafoto / Dollar Photo Club