There will be no changes to Australia’s contentious metadata retention laws despite concerns expressed by the Australian Press Council and publishers over their impact on press freedom.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield ruled out any changes to the counter-terrorism legislation that would force telecommunications companies to store phone and internet usage records of Australians for two years.
“I’m comfortable with the arrangements as they are,” Mr Fifield said this week.
Malcolm Turnbull’s elevation to Prime Minister in September had raised hope that the metadata legislation could be adjusted to include safeguards to protect whistle-blowers, journalists and their sources.
Chairman of the Press Council David Weisbrot said the laws threatened the future of investigative journalism and “way overreach the legitimate security concerns that the government has”.
Prof Weisbrot’s call for a re-examination of the legislation won support from Fairfax Media and The Australian.
The metadata retention laws come into effect on October 13.