ICAC backs government's data retention plan

THE New South Wales anti-corruption body backs the Abbott government's controversial data retention scheme, despite uncertainty about what will be kept by telecommunications companies.

A letter from the Independent Commission Against Corruption's solicitor Roy Waldon supported the scheme, which all other state and federal police agencies have also backed.

Despite industry concerns about the new laws not detailing what information must be kept, Mr Waldon said the ICAC supported putting such details in regulation rather than legislation. The letter was given to a joint parliamentary committee examining the government's bill, which is preparing for hearings next week on the changes.

However, hearings last year involving government officials revealed the government did not know what it would cost taxpayers or the industry, or the specifics of what data would be held.

The bill seeks to force telecom firms and internet service providers to keep "metadata" about Australians' phone and internet usage for two years to aid in terrorism investigations.

ICAC also supported measures to ensure the metadata kept was only accessible by law enforcement or investigation agencies.

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