Data retention: Govt preparing to issue guidelines for telco grants

Won’t reveal precise timing for data retention grants

The government has indicated that guidelines for the grants program designed to help telco’s implement their data retention obligations are on their way, but will offer scant details on the precise timing of the scheme.

Data retention obligations are set to kick in on 13 October for ISPs and telcos. However, service providers are able to apply for an 18-month extension to enable them to comply with the new regime.

The extension is available for businesses that lodge an implementation plan detailing how they intend to achieve compliance.

The scheme to allow the extra time to comply with data retention came about after government discussions with industry.

In its second budget, the government set aside $131.3 million for capital costs related to getting the scheme up and running. However, how those funds will be disbursed to telcos have yet to be published.

“Grants guidelines will be released in time for initial payments to be made during the 2015-16 financial year,” a spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s Department said.

“The total time for compliance is two years from passage of the legislation. The grants program will be coordinated with the implementation plan process to minimise duplication.”

The amount of funding set aside for telcos has previously been criticised because it falls short of the estimate contained in a government-commissioned report of $188.8 million to $319.1 million to establish the scheme. It also doesn’t include non-capital expenses.

Telecommunications industry organisation Communications Alliance has previously expressed concern over the lack of detail on how the government will manage data retention funding.

"It is disappointing that we still do not have any insight into how the government proposes to apportion the budgeted funds among the Australian service provider population," Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said in an interview earlier this month.

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