©2018 by polity.

  • Alex Wok

Mass Surveillance Laws


  • In 2015, the Australian government legalised the collection and storage of metadata by telecommunication companies and internet service providers (ISPs). This was in an effort to monitor threats to national safety and security, and will remain in place until 2019.

  • The forms of data in question include:

  • Basic billing information (i.e. name, address, phone numbers, etc.)

  • The date, time, and duration of phone calls, SMS messages, voice messages and emails, as well as the location from where these are made.

  • Mass surveillance is enacted by governments, and often in collaboration with the private sector. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) provides instructions for members of private companies in regards to their involvement with the collection and storage of personal data.

  • Telecommunications and Internet service providers operating in Australia are legally obliged to assist law enforcement and national security agencies in maintaining safety under Part 14 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

  • Companies that offer prepaid mobile services must verify a consumers’ identity with government agencies before providing the service.

  • Powers conferred upon the Attorney-General’s Department ensure that these telecommunications companies comply and cooperate.

  • In February 2018, Privacy International denounced the Australian Attorney-General’s Department after it campaigned for increased surveillance powers.​


Is mass surveillance a necessary measure

to uphold national security?


  1. Global Internet Liberty Campaign, ‘Privacy and Human Rights’.

  2. Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, ‘Privacy law: Other legislation’.

  1. The Conversation, ‘The new data retention law seriously invades our privacy - and it’s time we took action’.

  2. Parliament of Australia, ‘Telecommunications data retention’.

  3. Above, reference 1.

  4. Aeon, ‘Life in the fishbowl: The strange benefits of living in a total surveillance state’.

  5. Above, reference 1.

  6. The Australian, ‘New data-retention laws will restrict agencies’ powers without warrant’.