News National ‘Cosmetic fix’ to govt spy laws

‘Cosmetic fix’ to govt spy laws

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Critics have panned a proposal to tweak metadata draft laws, to protect journalist sources, as a superficial fix.

The government wants to force telecommunications companies to keep two years of customer metadata for access by police and intelligence agencies.

But Labor had raised concerns that journalists and whistleblowers could be caught up in the net.

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The government has agreed to an amendment that will require agencies to obtain a warrant to access a journalist’s metadata for the purpose of identifying a source.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said the amendment was a superficial fix.

Australia should instead look at the meaningful protection offered to journalists in the US, he said.

The Australian Greens have questioned why the government is going after journalists sources with or without a warrant.

“All that’s happening here is the government has thrown something at the Labor Party to buy its silence,” Greens senator Scott Ludlam told ABC Radio.

The government says the laws are essential for tackling terrorism and organised crime.

It wants the bill passed within the next fortnight.

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