Civil libertarians, Internet and telecommunication industry groups, consumer groups, privacy advocates and everyday citizens gathered at Parliament house in Canberra today to protest against the government\u2019s push for a mandatory data retention scheme.\nA mandatory data retention scheme would mean telecommunication companies and Internet service providers would be required to retain records of people\u2019s telephone and Internet communications for two years.\nGreens Senator Scott Ludlam, who led today\u2019s protest, said a draft bill for mandatory data retention was meant to be introduced into Parliament this week so it can be debated in November and passed before the end of the year.\n\u201cThere\u2019s no sign of the bill, it\u2019s not on the draft notice paper, so there\u2019s still a chance it could be dropped this week, but\u2026 it may well be that the bill is introduced in November,\u201d he said.\nMost of the organisations that made public statements today called for an exposure draft of the legislation.\nNarelle Clark from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network said there is not yet hard evidence or facts supporting the need for mandatory data retention.\n\u201cWe would like to know that such a system is proportionate to the risk that is being claimed, yet we\u2019ve not seen any full risk analysis of this type of system,\u201d she said.\n\u201cWithout a full risk analysis, and without an exposure draft to the legislation, we don\u2019t know what services are to be measured, monitored and collected.\u201d\nClark also pointed out the high level of risk in forcing organisations to store large volumes of data for long periods of time, as it\u2019s a \u201choney pot\u201d for cyber criminals to want to get their hands on.\n\u201cWe have seen a significant history of data breaches with this country, large data stores that have been exposed to the public, even though they have taken their strongest efforts to secure that data.\n\u201cThis data, which never goes away from the AFP system, could be subject to tampering if it\u2019s not properly secured,\u201d she added.\nAnother issue with mandatory data retention is the high costs of storing and securing \u201cterabytes of data potentially per day\u201d that would become the burden of telcos and ISPs, which would be passed onto consumers, Clark said.\n\u201cConsumers ultimately will be hit should such a regime come into place, with some sort of tax of the order of $10 a month, per consumer, per service.\n\u201cWe have estimates coming from industry which are as small as $50 million a year to put in a system up to hundreds of millions of dollars per year. And collectively I know my colleagues in industry have pointed to some figure of $500 million to simply establish a baseline system to collect the sort of data that would be required for this.\n"And if the government covers the full cost for this type of system, then we tax payers will pay that."\nThe government\u2019s urgency to get mandatory data retention passed through Parliament is \u201cdisingenuous at best and perhaps quite remarkably dishonest\u201d, according to Electronic Frontiers Australia\u2019s John Lawrence.\n\u201cThe Attorney General department has been working on this for some years, there is nothing urgent here,\u201d he said.\nHe also pointed to the existing data preservation notice scheme \u2013 introduced in 2012 \u2013 and questioned whether it is really inadequate for the government to carry out its high level security initiatives.\n\u201cWe ask that question: what's insufficient about that program? The government hasn\u2019t even attempted to answer that.\u201d\nGovernment whistleblowers and journalists would also be affected under a mandatory data retention scheme. Paul Murphy from the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance said the government could use data retention to spy on whistleblowers and journalists, hindering their ability to act as a watchdog as they could be treated as targeted suspects.\n\u201cTo write important stories journalists rely often on the bravery of whistleblowers, people like Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden,\u201d he said.\n\u201cThis push for greater data retention powers obviously poses great threats to those whistleblowers brave enough to bring information forward and put it into the public domain where they identify misuse of government power.\u201d\nIn addition, national security legislation that will allow journalists and whistleblowers to be jailed if they reveal information about special intelligence operations passed this month.\nAlso, leaks of the Trans Pacific Partnership released by WikiLeaks this month reveal criminal penalties to those who disclose trade secrets \u201cdetrimental to a party's economic interests, international relations, or national defence or national security". This would affect whistleblowers and journalists.\nDr Clinton Fernandes Associate Professor at University of NSW, and former Australian Army officer, took a slightly different view at the protest.\n\u201cWith metadata you can identify suspects very fast and there\u2019s a real public service component to retaining that kind of metadata,\u201d he said. \u201cMetadata is an extremely valuable tool for investigators and has a real public safety component.\u201d\nHe used the example of a man who broke into a Sydney home in 2011 and chained a fake bomb around a teenage girl\u2019s neck, and then sent out an extortion email. The police were able to use metadata to trace the email to a video store at a public library on the mid north coast of NSW.\nThey also used CCTV cameras and worked with the Internet service provider to track him down and make an arrest.\nHowever, Fernandes pointed out that the police were able to do this without any increased powers.