Big Brother is watching you posterIn the midst of all the recent revelations about the US National Security Agency’s Prism surveillance programme and GCHQ’s Tempora snooping on telecommunications and internet traffic, comes a small but welcome bit of good news. the Sydney Morning Herald reports that a controversial Australian government data retention scheme that would have required Australians’ internet and telephone activities to be stored for up to 2 years for law enforcement purposes has been shelved by the federal government after an inquiry recommended that the scheme should not go ahead.

The committee looking into the proposal as part of an inquiry into national security delivered its report on Monday. Most of those making submissions to the inquiry did not support the proposal. The federal police and the Tax Office were among the few who did. The report was scathing about the lack of information provided by former Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and her department, saying this had hampered the inquiry.

Peter Lee, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, said: “It’s not so much a win for industry but more a win for commonsense,” whilst John Stanton, chief executive of the Communications Alliance, said the government’s response was “good news” for consumers and the industry.

After the report’s release, Australia’s current Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the government would not pursue data retention legislation “at this time”.