Attorney-General George Brandis has awkwardly fumbled through a live interview on Sky News on Wednesday when trying to explain the government’s controversial data-retention policy.
The policy would force all telco companies to keep logs of what Australians do on their phones and online for up to two years, allowing law enforcement agencies to access the information without a warrant, according to a Fairfax report.
There is confusion over what information, or “metadata”, will actually be recorded, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier in the day saying that the policy would capture “the sites you’re visiting”.
There is currently no definition under Australian telecommunications law of what metadata is, but it is understood to include information such as time and location of phone calls, and start and finish time of internet sessions.
The Prime Minister’s office later clarified that this was not the case, and that warrants would be needed, but Mr Brandis has confused matters again, telling Sky News that web addresses would be captured.
Twitter users took to the site to describe the interview as a ‘car crash’ and ‘train wreck’.
— Sir Magoo (@MisdaMagoo) August 6, 2014
Brandis has no idea what he’s talking about on data retention. A train wreck of an interview. http://t.co/RDA9SuimLi
— Dave Gaukroger (@dfg77) August 6, 2014
Steve Dalby, the chief regulatory officer at internet provider iiNet said that the interview was “as clear as mud”.
Mr Dalby said that the government should release exactly what data they are after under the proposal before it is legislated later this year.
“It’s just as invasive as standing with a video camera over my shoulder while I’m browsing and of course that’s what they want,” Mr Dalby said.