Telstra seeks timeout on data retention

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Asks for exemption, expects compensation.

Telstra has sought an 18-month exemption from proposed laws that would require telcos to preserve data on persons suspected of serious crimes.

Although "generally supportive" of the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill, spokesman James Shaw said Telstra had "serious concerns" about the lack of time to be afforded to telcos to transition to the new arrangements.

“It would involve a whole new process,” Shaw said, noting that would involve seeking Board-level agreement to invest in more integrated infrastructure.

Shaw said time was required to undertake detailed feasibility studies into the additional obligations; design, build and deploy the necessary equipment; make network and IT system changes; and undertake testing with agencies.

Changes to Telstra's current practice of preserving stored communications under the “reasonably necessary assistance” provisions of the Telecommunications Act 1997 would require a “significant amount of time and financial resources” on the part of carriers and ISPs, Telstra said.

Telstra said that the Bill's express requirement to preserve information for up to 180 days would have a major impact on networks and systems. 

Shaw said that Telstra required a 90-day period after the legislation’s royal assent to study its implications for their networks and up to 18 months exemption from its compliance to operate a secure and effective system for the new storage of communications.

Telstra planned to take up additional cost recovery implications directly with the Government, Shaw said.

The proposed text of the amendment, launched in June, represented a softening of the Government's stance on data retention.

The new rules extended the surveillance powers of the Government in order to comply with the European Convention on Cybercrime.

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