Oz metadata retention won't include URLs: report

Will include 'financial information'

Updated The Australian government has reportedly circulated a private brief outlining how it intends to define “metadata”, according to The Australian.

There are some snippets of new information in the copy of the document seen by The Oz: while the government is apparently excluding “content” from the data retention scheme, it now seems “metadata” will also include financial and billing information about customers.

“Companies should retain records that would identify the names and addresses of individual internet and telephone account holders as well as information to trace and identify the source of a communication and the device used”, that report states.

There seems to be a hint that those who feared the NBN could become a giant log were unfounded, with the paper saying that neither retail nor wholesale providers will be required to undertake “session-logging”.

While stating that URLs and “destination IP addresses” are excluded from the data collection, the report in The Australian says providers will be required to collect information sufficient to “trace and identify the source of a communication and the device used”.

The secrecy of the paper – which as recently as last Friday was expected to be released in public – indicates that the government remains hopeful it can control the metadata debate without revealing its intentions until it brings legislation before the parliament. ®

Analyst and consultant Paul Brooks, speaking on a panel at the Australian Internet Governance Forum, says his understanding is that the government will be releasing a public version of its discussion paper on Thursday August 28. ®

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