Police will have the authority to compel ISPs to retain the internet records of suspects of cyber-based crimes.
NEW laws will allow authorities to collect and monitor Australians' internet records, including their web-browsing history, social media activity and emails.
But the laws, which will specifically target suspected cyber criminals, do not go as far as separate proposed laws designed to retain every Australian internet user's internet history for two years in the name of national security.
Under the laws passed yesterday, Australian state and federal police will have the power to compel telcos and internet service providers to retain the internet records of people suspected of cyber-based crimes, including fraud and child pornography. Only those records made after the request will be retained, but law enforcement agencies will be prevented from seeing the information until they have secured a warrant.
It is believed that while some telcos and internet service providers keep data for up to a week, others routinely delete users' data daily, frustrating the ability of authorities to gather evidence against suspects.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the laws would help police track cyber criminals globally and give authorities the power to find people engaged in forgery, fraud, child pornography and infringement of copyright and intellectual property. They also will allow Australia to join the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, which has 34 members.
''Cyber crime is a growing threat that touches all aspects of modern life,'' Ms Roxon said. ''It poses complex policy and law enforcement challenges, partly due to the transnational nature of the internet.''
But Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam said the laws went further than the European convention, and that the government had failed to explain why the far-reaching powers were necessary.
The European convention states that the treaty is not focused on data retention but on targeting law enforcement.
Australia's new laws mean information can be kept at least until police get a warrant.
Senator Ludlam was particularly concerned the laws would allow data that implicates Australians in crimes that carry penalties of three years or more - including the death penalty - to be collected and analysed.
''The European Treaty doesn't require ongoing collection and retention of communications, but the Australian bill does,'' he said in a statement. ''It also leaves the door open for Australia to assist in prosecutions, which could lead to the death penalty overseas.''
The deadline for submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into the separate proposed national security laws closed on Monday and a parliamentary committee will report on the issue at a date to be decided.
Those proposals would allow the telephone and internet data of every Australian to be retained for up to two years and intelligence agencies would be given increased access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.