Budget 2015: Data retention costs falling short

Budget 2015: Data retention costs falling short

Government needs to commit to a funding top up if there is a shortfall once final costs are determined, says the Internet Society of Australia

The Internet Society of Australia has criticised the $131 million being allocated by the federal government to cover the telecommunications industry’s costs to implement the data retention scheme.

The organisation has called on the government to commit to a top up if there is a significant shortfall in funds once costs have been determined.

The latest fund allocation is less than half the amount the government estimated when the data retention bill was originally presented to parliament, the Internet Society said.

The Internet Society and Communications Alliance are already advising the department on how the requirements will impact ISPs. Last month, chief executives of major telecommunications companies called on the government to provide clarity on the financial contribution it would make towards implementing the data retention scheme.

They noted that the government had indicated it would make a ‘substantial contribution’ to these costs which might exceed $300 million.

The Internet Society and Communications Alliance have advised the Attorney General’s Department that the government has greatly underestimated the work involved in rolling out the scheme.

“Therefore, we believe it’s too early to be capping the amount of money allocated to the industry’s cost recovery,” the Internet Society said.

If there is a funding shortfall, the ISP and telecommunications industry will have to underwrite the difference and this will be passed onto consumers through increased Internet fees, the organisation said.

“The government’s original cost estimate was not based on widespread industry consultation and the Internet Society is concerned that the costs have been significantly underestimated, especially in respect to small and medium sized ISPs that don’t have the resources to undertake the work in-house and therefore will be required to pay for external assistance.”

In a worst case scenario, the costs associated with implementing the data retention scheme could force some ISPs out of business, the Internet Society said.

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Tags telecommunications industryISPCommunications Allianceinternet society of australiaAttorney General's Departmentdata retention plan

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