Earlier this year Google and ACCAN partnered to offer a paid internship opportunity with ACCAN. Applicants were invited to submit a brief proposal outlining a research project on an emerging communications consumer issue.

The winner was recent law graduate David Seidler, who tackled the hot topic of data retention. Seidler’s report Hacking the Grapevine: Data Retention and protecting Australian consumer privacy is a first-class piece of research by a talented up-and-coming lawyer.

The report examines the arguments for and against data retention. It pulls no punches, recommending against mandatory data retention and finding little evidence to support the claims of law enforcement agencies.

Seidler argues that if law enforcement cannot operate without metadata on criminal suspects, a data preservation system specifically targeting these suspects is a workable alternative to data retention that includes all Australians.

The report also argues for greater consumer protections and looks at ways to prevent privacy breaches in the first instance.

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