Data retention: Telco group calls for ‘regulatory restraint’ by govt

Communications Alliance said delays in the government grants scheme have affected some telcos’ efforts to comply with the data retention regime

Telecommunications industry group Communications Alliance has called on the government to hold off on taking any enforcement action against telcos that are unable to fully comply with the data retention regime by April 2017.

Although data retention obligations kicked in on 13 October 2015, telecommunications service providers that lodged an implementation plan with the government were given an extended period to comply with the new law.

The government only today released details of the allocation of grants to telcos to help them with the capital costs of complying with their data retention obligations. The delay between data retention obligations beginning and telcos finding out the details of the funds they will receive has been a source of angst within the industry. The gap between the total funds made available by the government and the total cost to industry has also caused dismay.

“The government appears to have done a reasonable job of apportioning the limited funds available, particularly among smaller providers, although some of the larger players face heavy unfunded expenses to meet their compliance requirements,” Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said in a statement.

“But the lengthy delay in finalising the grants process has put many services providers under immense pressure to complete, on time, the work to enable them to comply with this regime.”

“The government should acknowledge that these delays have made compliance more difficult to achieve within the prescribed timeframe,” Stanton said.

The Communications Alliance CEO called on Attorney-General George Brandis to commit to, once the April deadline passes, not taking action against service provider that is “genuinely working to comply with the regime, but has been disadvantaged by the slow pace of decision-making”.

The group’s call was endorsed by Internet Australia.

“Our view is that the government needs to be cognisant of the fact that its delay in providing funding has compounded the difficulty some ISP’s have faced in becoming compliant,” IA CEO Laurie Patton said.

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