Senate move to force Government to define public 'metadata'

THE Greens have won support from the Senate to force the government to table documents explaining the definition of the public "metadata" it is pushing telecommunications companies to keep on file for two years.

The hastily proposed data-retention scheme is part of the government's new raft of anti-terrorism measures but has been criticised for the lack of detail provided by the Prime Minister and Attorney-General George Brandis.

On Tuesday The Australian newspaper revealed that Senator Brandis had asked telephone and internet providers including Telstra, Optus and iiNet to store financial records, download volumes and internet-protocol addresses but not IP addresses or URLS.

The government would also like the companies to capture supplementary data including date of birth, financial, billing and payment information, other transactional information, or contact information.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the public also had a right to see policy documents that could be used as the framework for legislation to collect private data.

"The public has a right to know where we stand and if the Government seriously intends to pursue data collection on every Australian man, woman and child, then at least we need to know the definition of metadata," he told the Senate today.