Tuesday, 12 April 2016 16:26

Comms Alliance blasts govt for delay on data retention funding

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Comms Alliance blasts govt for delay on data retention funding Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

The telecommunications industry body, Communications Alliance, has hit out at the Federal Government’s long delay in telling telco providers how much they will have to pay to comply with its new Data Retention regulations.

Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton said on Tuesday that one year after the passage of the Government’s mandatory data retention legislation, telecommunications providers are still waiting to learn how much of their multi-million dollar compliance costs will remain unfunded – and “whether their business will be threatened as a result”.

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill passed the Senate on 13 April 2015 – one year ago tomorrow (Weds) - and came into effect on 13 October last year.

The requirement to collect and store a huge volume of customer data was estimated by the Government’s consultants to entail an upfront capital cost to industry of up to A$319.1 million, but Stanton said industry expects the actual capital costs to be significantly higher than that.

Stanton points out that the Government itself estimates that the ongoing data retention compliance costs to industry will total $738 million over the first 10 years of operation of the scheme.

But, Stanton says the 2015-16 Federal Budget contained funding of $131.3 million over three years to make a contribution to the increased capital costs of telecommunications providers – and, of that figure, he says almost $3 million will be “siphoned off by the Attorney General’s Department for administrative costs”.

“Only weeks away from the 2016-17 Budget, however, telecommunications providers are no closer to knowing how much they will receive from the Government.

“They therefore don’t know how much their business – and ultimately their customers - will have to contribute to the costs of the data retention regime,” Stanton says.

Stanton notes that the round of applications from service providers seeking a share of the Government funding closed on 23 February this year, and that the next step is for the Government Data Retention Implementation Working Group to meet and review the weightings that are to be used to help calculate how much subsidy funding each eligible service provider will receive.

But, Stanton complains that the Working Group meeting has still not yet been scheduled.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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