Australia’s metadata retention laws have come into effect, but officials claim they will not be as easily accessible as some suggest.
Fears have been raised that the new store of phone and internet data would be provided to lawyers in civil litigation cases, but Attorney-General George Brandis says this is not the case. 
Senator Brandis has issued a statement saying existing restrictions preventing this scenario will remain in place, but that the data will be provided to security agencies and other government departments for their investigations. 
“The Government’s data retention legislation simply standardised the type of data telecommunications service providers are required to retain and the length of time they need to keep it.”
Still, the Government faces a range of issues in the metadata retention rollout, with internet service providers and others calling for an extended grace period to comply with the laws.
The Communications Alliance has argued that $130 million worth of grants to help companies adjust were only finalised in September last year, and so many are still struggling to comply with the new regime. 
“The Attorney-General should publicly commit that no action will be taken post-deadline against any service provider that is genuinely working to comply with the regime, but has been disadvantaged by the slow pace of decision-making,” Communications Alliance chief John Stanton said. 
“[The] Government should focus in the short term on a cooperative approach to helping service providers meet their compliance obligation – rather than purely on enforcement.”
Privacy advocates at Digital Rights Watch declared the first day of the data retention regime as “Get a VPN Day”.