Tuesday, 19 September 2017 05:55

Top Australian telcos mostly mum on security reforms Featured

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Australia's main telecommunications providers appear to be mostly wary of commenting on the security reforms for the industry which were passed by parliament last week.

iTWire contacted the five biggest telcos — Telstra, Optus, TPG, Vocus and Vodafone — to find out their reaction but only two responded with a reaction.

Telstra and TPG did not reply, while Vocus said its authorised spokesperson, chief executive Geoff Horth, was in meetings the whole of Friday.

Presumably, Horth was occupied with weightier matters like the proposed shareholder class action against Vocus for allegedly misleading investors.

The reforms mean that telcos will now be forced to tell the government about changes to systems and services that could make them more vulnerable to security risks.

The legislation will be reviewed in three years.

Australia's second largest telco Optus said the company supported proposals aimed at improving security in the sector and government initiatives that furthered the same objective. 

"We will be working through the logistics of the reforms with government over the implementation period," the spokesperson added.

A Vodafone spokesperson said the company took security very seriously.

"We already have stringent systems, processes and policies in place to safeguard our network, and are working closely withgovernment and industry to counter continually-evolving threats. We will continue to comply with all our legal obligations," the spokesperson added.

The reactions contrast somewhat sharply with the chorus of apprehension expressed by industry lobby groups in February.

At that time, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Information Industry Association, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association and Communications Alliance sent a joint submission to the committee looking at the bill, expressing numerous concerns.

The joint submission stated that some of the issues were vague drafting, regulatory overreach, the risk that telecommunications service providers could be forced by government to dismantle or retro-fit existing communications networks and the risk that innovation would be hampered and competitively disadvantage businesses.

The bipartisan Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security made numerous recommendations on 30 June, all of which were accepted by the government.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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