Everyone from internet trolls to the Communications Minister is sharing wisdom on how to avoid the capture of your metadata. Why? Well, now that Parliament has passed the controversial retention laws, your metadata’s life expectancy has improved out of sight.
Telcos and ISPs now need to store ALL metadata for two years, and it will be available for trawling by 20 different government agencies including ASIO, the cops, ASIC and the ACCC.
Merits of the laws to one side (so you know, we say there aren't any), here’s a handy list of tips for those who don’t want the wells of their virtual existence to be tapped. And yes, it is completely legal not to create the metadata in the first place. The laws only impose obligations on the telcos and ISPs, not actual people.
- Come on, get appy. A number of apps available on phones and tablets allow you to message and call people without leaving a metadata trace. WhatsApp, Viber and Skype all work through the internet on your phone, not through your local phone service.
- Not made in Australia. Foreign email servers like Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail are outside the reach of the Australian metadata laws. Those companies aren’t required to store the data, and even if they did, an Australian warrant wouldn’t grant access to it. Au contraire, if someone wanted to see how often @marquelawyers.com.au emailed firstname.lastname@example.org, they could. And they would be shocked by the volume.
- Take a mini break. No longer the closely guarded secret of Netflix aficionados, VPNs basically send your internet on a holiday. To Italy? Why yes. Mejico? Don’t mind if I do. For Netflix users, having a VPN in the US means you can access the local US content. For current Australian internet users, it means that any metadata created while using a VPN will not be ‘created’ in Australia, won’t be subject to the new laws and will be outside the reach of the local cops.