Pricing Network
IP Address
35.175.182.106
Internet provider
Amazoncom
NOT SECURE
Your Internet provider can track your Internet activity.
Help & SupportContact
IP Address
35.175.182.106
Internet provider
Amazoncom
NOT SECURE
Your Internet provider can track your Internet activity.
Here to test WireGuard with IVPN? Start here

Privacy Laws in Australia

IVPN customers in Australia trust us every day with their increasing demand for privacy and security. Understand why privacy is such an important issue for customers in Australia.

Data Retention by ISPs

A highly controversial data retention law was enacted in Australia in 2015. According to the Australia Data Retention Act (ADRA), large amounts of telecommunications metadata must now be kept for two years by Australian telecommunications companies. The Act covers data with regard to who called or texted whom and for how long, as well as the location, volume of data exchanged, information about the device used and any and all email IP data. It also makes it far easier for Australian authorities to access these records[1].

The government argued that said legislation would be “critical” for security agencies and law enforcement in order to combat domestic terrorism. The legislation does have some strict stipulations worth noting: for example, only metadata is included and not the content of calls and messages themselves. The law also doesn’t require firms to retain the browsing history of users. Also, whilst Australian ISPs are required to keep detailed records of almost everything about an email or chat conversation (apart from their actual content), foreign messaging platforms such as Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook and Skype are exempt. Internal email and telephone networks, such as those operated within companies and universities, are also exempt[2].

However, ADRA remains very divisive in Australia, with accusations that the Act provides excessive room for law enforcement agencies to abuse their access to and viewing of consumer data. There is also reported to be confusion amongst telecommunications companies and ISPs with regard to them being confused about their responsibilities under the Act[3]. The law is in quite stark contrast to the former legal regime in Australia, whereby ISPs were not compelled by any laws to retain personal data. They were only obliged to give “necessary assistance” to any federal, state or territorial law enforcement agency as part of a criminal investigation – and only with an appropriate court order to do so[4]. ADRA certainly changed all of that for Australians online or using their phones.

Digital Copyright Laws

Like most English-speaking common law countries, Australia has strong copyright laws in place. Copyright is fully embodied in the applicable provisions of the Copyright Act of 1968. The Act applies to certain materials, including literary works, dramatic works, musical works, artistic works and other subject matter such as films, sound recordings, broadcasts and published editions. The Act does not require the completion of formalities (such as publication or registration for a given copyright) in order to obtain protection in Australia. Copyright protection is conferred outright and without prejudice to its owner[5].

At time of this writing, Australia was still assessing how to make changes to its copyright laws to accommodate the digital age, with this being done at the behest of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC)[6]. An important case was that of Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Limited (2012) which concerned the liability of an ISP (iiNet) for the alleged copyright infringements by its customers with regard to using peer-to-peer file-sharing technology to upload and download films copyrighted by the plaintiff (Roadshow Films). The High Court found that the ISP was not liable, as it had not expressly authorised the copyright infringement of its users[7]. Other cases have been indecisive in this regard. Greater clarity with regard to digital copyright law is clearly overdue in Australia’s legal system.

Freedom of Speech and Censorship

Unlike many other countries, Australian does not have a Bill of Rights which guarantees the right of free speech. However, the Australian High Court has ruled that freedom of expression is implied in Australia’s constitution, given that the country was established as a democracy and that freedom of speech is therefore a constituent part of this form of government and was implied with its establishment[8]. However, the country has very strong, even crippling, defamation laws, which can hinder freedom of speech. It has also shown a preponderance to enact censorship laws regarding issues of morality.

Future Trends

Australia seems poised to continue the curtailing of online privacy. Government actions and recently enacted legislation seem to lend weight to this concern. Equally concerning is that Australia still has no strongly protected rights to privacy and freedom of speech.

Our Take

Australia is not in a good place with regard to online privacy, as such, Australians cannot afford to be complacent about their privacy in the digital realm.

Interested in other countries? See our Comparison of Internet Privacy Laws page.

Protect yourself today and get peace of mind

Shut out hackers, identity thieves and the global government surveillance apparatus — every time you go online.