Communications Alliance (CA) and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) have welcomed the recommendations of the Parliamentary inquiry into telecommunications interception, data retention and related infrastructure security issues.
CA CEO, John Stanton, said the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has struck a reasonable balance in its examination of what is a highly complex set of issues.
"The Committee has focused on the protection of consumers' privacy, the need for government transparency and the necessity to develop proposals in consultation with industry and to take account of the cost implications for industry flowing from potential security-related reforms," he said.
AMTA CEO, Chris Althaus, said many of the committee's 43 recommendations reflected input received from CA, AMTA and individual service providers.
Althaus said the industry supported the PJCIS’ recommendation that if the Government pushes for a data retention regime, that it does so transparently via circulation of draft legislation, installs a review mechanism of any regime and ensures that the Government reimburses additional costs imposed on industry.
He claimed that the cost of setting up a data retention regime could run as high as $700 million.
“The telecommunications industry remains supportive of the government's desire to ensure that agencies can access the information they need to fight serious crime and national threats, while balancing this against the protection of privacy and the cost to industry of specific initiatives.”
Althaus also mentioned additional discussion is required to determine what specific 'meta-data' might be retained and what costs would be incurred and reimbursed by government.
CA and AMTA also welcomed the the Parliamentary Committee's recommendations on:
- the threshold for government agencies being given access to telecommunications data be reviewed, with a view to reducing the number of agencies that can gain such access.
- duplicative legislation be removed
- the telecommunications interception legislation be amended to provide greater clarity around the obligations on service providers.
- the Government should - if it wanted to impose time limits on telco service providers responding to security agencies - develop these in consultation with industry and take account of any additional costs to industry.
CA and AMTA said they are ready to work with the government on the implementation of soundly based measures in the telecommunications security space.