Data retention could cost over $500m: Comms Alliance, AMTA

A joint submission by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) and the Communications Alliance has detailed data retention reforms could cost the industry over half a billion dollars.

Its submission to a parliamentary inquiry into reforms into national security legislation states set-up costs for data retention would cost nearly $100 million.

“If the source and destination IP addresses were to be included in the capture and retain requirement the setup costs would be likely to approach a figure in the region [$500 million to $700 million],” the submission states.

“The inclusion of a single additional data element has the potential to increase the capture and retention cost by tens of millions of dollars.”

The potential data retention matter is part of reforms into four pieces of legislation, including the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979; the Telecommunications Act 1997; the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979; and the Intelligence Services Act 2001.

The associations have called on a cost analysis of the reforms to be carried out by parliament, which would also allow an analysis of the privacy implications of the reform to also be assessed.

The submission said that the cost of any data retention reforms should be borne by the government or there is the risk costs will be passed on and consumers will bear the cost.

“These real costs must be minimised so that unnecessary costs are not passed onto consumers and do not result in a less internationally competitive Australian telecommunications sector either domestically or on international terms,” the submission states.

The associations also took umbrage to the blanket coverage of the proposed data retention reforms, which would see ISPs and telecommunications providers responsible for retaining all customer data for up to two years.

“The associations’ view is that the government has not provided sufficient justification for the implementation of data retention. In particular there appears to have been no proper assessment of the relationship to be derived and the costs (social and financial) involved in implementing such a regime,” the joint submission states.

Instead, the associations stated industry naturally protect their infrastructure without the need for further incentives or requirements.

Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam, has been a fierce opponent of the data retention proposals, previously telling Computerworld Australia the proposals had a “dodgy premise” and the government was playing “lip service”.

In his submission to the inquiry, Ludlam reaffirmed his position that the data retention proposals were treating all citizens as suspects.

“Retaining all data, for all Australians, for years means that every article read online, detailed locational data collected by phones, every email sent, every item purchased would be captured,” he said in his submission.

He also reiterated his security concerns over stored data being vulnerable to hacking.

“The vast amounts of data that would be retained poses a security threat because it would be vulnerable to theft and hacking by unauthorised persons or governments, private entities or criminal actors,” he said.

“Australians have a strong tradition of standing up for free speech and freedom of association – we need to safeguard these traditions in the online environment.”

Acting Victorian Privacy Commissioner, Anthony Bendall, also slammed the Federal Government’s proposed two-year Web and telecommunications data retention laws as “characteristic of a police state”.

A total of 177 submissions were received for the inquiry.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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