Encrypt, go offshore to avoid data retention: Senator

After the Coalition and Labor came to a deal on the legislation last week, the Senate began debating the amended laws.

Senator Scott Ludlam.
Senator Scott Ludlam. LUKAS Cochaap

But the reforms will have all Australians' metadata, which is still not defined, retained by the telecommunications industry for two years for police agencies to use.

Changes made in the deal with Labor would mean a new public interest advocate, but journalists would face two years' jail for revealing any warrants used to get at their sources.

Sen Ludlam, driving the arguments against the controversial laws, on Tuesday urged people to use data encryption methods and offshore ISPs, which were not "illegal" under the bill.

He said it was simply a way for people to "take the power back" if they were concerned about what he dubbed a "passive mass surveillance scheme".

The two major parties have retained a "bipartisan" agreement on such national security laws, arguing they were "above politics".

But government officials have previously admitted data retention schemes were unlikely to succeed in preventing terror attacks from any isolated lone wolf, who by their nature use little to no communication about their activities.