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Telcos given a breather to meet Oz metadata retention laws

AG Dept offers rollout extension

Australian telcos' complaints about the government's rushed data retention implementation schedule have borne fruit, with the Attorney General's Department offering a deadline extension.

Communications Day reports that the offer of a maximum 18-month extension for full compliance was made in a letter sent to members of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman scheme.

While the metadata laws come into effect on 13 October 2015, the AG's department, via communications access coordinator Jamie Lowe, has offered a conditional extension to 13 April 2017.

Providers seeking an extension would need to lodge an implementation plan with the department, and have that implementation plan approved.

Carriers and service providers have complained that the October deadline is too short, particularly given uncertainty about the technical requirements of data retention.

The Register has previously reported on the lack of detail in the AG's advice to carriers, something that won't have helped them meet a 2015 deadline.

Data storage requirements, in particular, are scanty, with little advice about suitable media or storage locations. Stored data does, however, have to be "encrypted and protected from unauthorised interference or unauthorised access."

The latest letter also reiterates the government's offer of a AU$128 million funding pool to help the industry – particularly smaller providers – meet the cost of data retention.

"My office's key focus during the implementation period is collaborative engagement, so that providers reach full compliance by 13 April 2017," the letter to providers says. ®

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