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Australia may force ISPs to store web surfing history

Monday 14 Jun 2010 12:45 p.m.

By Dan Satherley

The Australian government plans to force internet service providers to keep a record of their customers' web surfing history.

Currently, ISPs in Australia only record users' web data when ordered to by the courts.

Tech website ZDNet.com.au reported yesterday the Australian Attorney General's Department has discussed the idea with ISPs, one of which told ZDNet data could be held for five to 10 years.

"They seem quite intent [on the plan] and they keep throwing up the words 'terrorism' and 'paedophiles'," the ISP anonymously told ZDNet. "We're talking browsing history and emails, way beyond what I would consider to be normal SMS, retaining full browsing history and everything."

Currently, some states in Europe keep records of internet use, but only for between six and 24 months.

''The Attorney-General's Department has been looking at the European Directive on Data Retention, to consider whether such a regime is appropriate within Australia's law enforcement and security context.," the department confirmed.

Spokesman Robert McClelland denied the government would go as far as some feared.

''The consultations relate to the information to identify the participants in crime networks and terrorist organisations,'' he told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''It does not include the content of a communication."

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