Currently, companies that provide customers with a connection to the internet don’t retain or log subscriber’s private web browsing history unless they are given an interception warrant by law enforcement, usually approved by a judge. It is only then that companies can legally begin tapping a customer’s internet connection.
In March 2006, the European Union formally adopted its data retention directive (PDF), a directive which the Australian Government said it wished to use as an example if it implemented such a regime.
The EU regime requires that the communications providers from certain EU member states retain necessary data as specified in the Directive for a period of between six and 24 months.
One internet service provider (ISP) source told ZDNet Australia that the Australian regime, if implemented, could go as far as recording each URL a customer visited and all emails.
At the heart of the near-universal support for adolescent health privacy is an extensive body of data. The research shows that the greatest barrier to young people seeking medical help is the fear their parents may find out.
In Australia, “mature minors” are authorised to make decisions about their medical treatment. A mature minor is a tween or teen with sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand the nature and consequences of the medical intervention proposed, and to give informed consent to it.
While all those under 18 must be accessed on such criteria, it is generally assumed that those over 17 are mature minors, that those 14 to 16 are reasonably likely to be, and that those under 14 may not have capacity to consent, particularly in relation to more serious treatments. The requirement for confidentiality is a corollary of the mature minor framework.
Never one to let evidence muddy the waters of ideology, the now Opposition leader Tony Abbott was part of a government that in 2003 lifted the age at which information about a child’s healthcare visits could be accessed by their parents from 12 to 14. As Health Minister he vigorously argued for this threshold to be lifted again, from 14 to 16. Had he succeeded, an entire group of Australians would have been denied independent and confidential medical care, despite most qualifying for it.