Key issues with the proposed mandatory data retention law

There’s a post up on Labor leader Bill Shorten’s site addressing Labor’s position in regards to the draft mandatory metadata retention legislation and specifically to recommendations included in the Parliamentary Joint Committee report, released late Friday.

Honestly, it’s not very encouraging.  I really think Labor should be outright blocking the passage of the bill (ideally it should be scrapped altogether) until many of the key issues are directly addressed in the legislation itself.  For example, the PJCIS report highlights some glaring problems, notably:

  • The Bill does not explicitly require data to be destroyed at the end of the retention period,
  • The Bill is silent on the issue of data security,
  • The Bill does not prevent offshore storage

.and undoubtedly plenty more. 

The main problem is that the PJCIS report doesn’t make any specific recommendations to address these shortcomings.  For example,  this:  “To give effect to this recommendation, the Committee recommends that the Data Retention Implementation Working Group develop an appropriate standard of encryption to be incorporated in to regulations” is fairly useless.

..and this gem, which offloads details until a later date (a common theme in most of the report’s recommendations):  “The Committee recommends that the Explanatory Memorandum to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 clarify the requirements for service providers with regard to the retention, de-identification or destruction of data once the two year retention period has expired”.

Based on the above alone, detailed data about Australians could be stored unencrypted offshore and still be compliant with the legislation.  The risk of a data breach is almost palatable!  Imagine all the potential for identity theft, fraud, disclosure of confidential business information (most emails are sent unencrypted), blackmail…. the list of threats goes on.  If this legislation is passed without serious rework the Government shall be  guilty of severe negligence.

How can anyone with a functioning brain seriously support a bill with such glaring issues that even a joint committee appear lost in the woods?  This is dire stuff, folks.

Home Office – Personal Development Space

It doesn’t seem to be discussed too much, but I think there’s great value in establishing a quiet, comfortable space in your home environment where you can work and focus. 

As a developer or architect your environment has a large impact on your creativity, your thinking and ability to concentrate.  Therefore, it’s worth spending some time examining under what conditions you perform the best.  In that vein, I’d like to invite you on a brief tour of my current workspace.

I work from home from time to time, and as a result have “requisitioned” a room as a home office.  As I perform large scale architectural work these days (i.e documentation and conceptual design), my work style and work space needs have changed slightly.  I’ve also needed to accommodate the occasional incursions by my two wonderful boys and occasionally my wife too.

Over the years [2009] as we’ve moved around, I’ve had evolving home office configurations – here’s a brief review of my current setup.

My Desktop


My desk has become noticeably cleaner (basic) and clutter-free in the new house.  This is partially because the boys will tend to climb up onto the desk and “liberate” any desk ornaments.  I also rather enjoy the clear space.  The only non-standard accessory might be the Polycom small office conference phone for long teleconference meetings. 

Oh yeah, and a 31” Stormtrooper, naturally.

I’ve parted with some serious cash to obtain a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse because I use them quite heavily, and the backlit keyboard is simply brilliant if when I work in low light – typically late at night, to not disturb the boys who sleep in the next room. 

I’ve retained two high definition speakers from my old Boomtube™ portable speaker system and coupled them to a fairly ordinary TDK stereo amplifier (which used to be in the kitchen).  The amp has a handy headphone jack so I can plug in headphones when needed.


There’s a couple of small frames to keep me company (screened off in these photos) and really not much else of note.  Below the stern gaze of the Stormtrooper, sitting on top of a side table, is my old Sony turntable which is connected to the workstation underneath the desk.  Underneath that is my old (American) football helmet, and a leather backed two-volume copy of the complete Far Side by Gary Larson – not photographed.

The Office

Visitor CentreBookshelf

The view from the desk isn’t too shabby either – I’ve got a reasonably comfortable blue leather single seater for guests (or kids) and (temporarily) a rocking chair as well as two very tall wooden bookcases filled to the brim with collectables and odds and ends.  The top of the bookcase is adorned by a reasonably sized Lego™ city.

I also have a large whiteboard behind the study door, which is used to do basic diagramming and designing.  So that’s basically it – in days gone by I would have had half a dozen machines, a KVM and 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound.  These days I’ve gone for a less compact, larger space workspace with comfort and minimal clutter in mind.


Strangely enough, I feel like I’ve matured my workspace into something comfortable and spacious compared to some of my previous home offices.  By moving most of the “office tech” (server, NAS, networked printer) into a spare room, I’ve created a lot of clear space so that it doesn’t feel too cramped.

There’s only one computer in the room (under the desk) and one router which is obscured in a corner.  The emphasis is on the work space, and since the room needed to be kiddie-proof, most of the desk clutter has been removed.

How does your work space compare?  Do you prefer space, or do you work better in a compressed but highly organised area?  What do you have in your office which provides you with inspiration for ideas and designs?  Please comment.