Service providers have struggled to meet the deadline, leading the Communications Alliance to call on the government to cut its members some slack.
But that's only delaying the inevitable. In the near future, service providers will be required to store call information (the number dialled and duration, even if the call is unanswered) for longer than necessary for commercial purposes, the location where a phone or other device was used, the type of communication (email, social media, etc), the source and destination of the communication, the IP address allocated to a user, and other details.
According to EFA executive officer Jon Lawrence, “VPNs are one of the most effective tools for protecting privacy when using the Internet. They provide a degree of anonymity when accessing online services and also protect against eavesdropping and government surveillance.
The trouble is that it is difficult to tell whether VPN operators live up to the privacy claims they make. Using a VPN does protect against people eavesdropping on your traffic when connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot, but just because the operator says it doesn't keep any logs and is located in a "privacy friendly" jurisdiction, it's practically impossible to obtain independent confirmation. So as PC Magazine recently put it, "it's getting hard to tell when a company is actually providing a secure service and when it's throwing out a lot of fancy words while selling snake oil."
EFA reiterated its calls for an urgent review of the data retention legislation and specifically called for a universal warrant requirement to be introduced for access to retained telecommunications data.
Lawrence said privacy was critical to a number of relationships, including those between journalists and sources, lawyers and clients, and doctors and patients. "The only effective means to achieve such protection is to have a universal warrant requirement for access to retained telecommunications data."