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Dr Suelette Dreyfus told ABC News 24 that data retention of citizens raises many questions of its effectiveness, collection and storage.

She said the overseas experience of Germany, for example, shows that data retention laws had no impact in fighting terrorism. Also, the storage of citizens' metadata by their ISP or phone carrier raises risks in gathering, storing and securing that data, along with the immense expense. Further, it raises legal questions about data sovereignty held by those organisations in facilities offshore - who has access to that data? Finally, the whole exercise seems like a strong jackhammer approach to capture the data of 20 millions Australians versus a few dozen Australians engaged in overseases terror activities.

Dr Suelette Dreyfus is a research fellow in the Department of Computing and Information Systems, Melbourne School of Engineering.