Data Retention Obligations in Australia Become Law

Image of ServersFrom the Attorney-General’s Department

Telecommunication service providers that use communications infrastructure may be required to retain telecommunications data for two years. From 13 October 2015, the obligations apply to internet service providers, licensed carriers, and carriage service providers, irrespective of size or customer base. Some services, such as broadcasting services, are excluded.

This law is meant to provide law enforcement and security agencies access to data. The data will be kept under strict controls to limit unlawful access.

What Does the Data Set Include?

The legislation details the specific types of data that must be retained. The data sets include information relating to:

  • Destination and source of a communication
  • Time, date, and duration of a communication
  • Type of communication
  • Location of the communication equipment

Subscriber and service level account information must also be kept for two years. Other subscriber information must be retained for as long as the account is open or for two years after the account is closed.

Service providers do not have to retain data that relates to services offered by other providers. For example, a service provider that only provides wholesale service must only retain information that is relevant to the provision of that specific service.

If service providers cannot comply with the regulations by 13 October 2015, they should apply to the Communications Access Coordinator for an exemption or exception. The details are as follows:

  • Lodge an implementation plan that details how you will achieve compliance, and receive an exemption up to 18 months.
  • Apply for an exemption from the obligations for a specific service or apply for a variation of the obligations relating to the retention of data for a specific service.
Help for Upfront Capital Costs

The Australian government will provide a package of $131.3 million over three years to help the industry cover the upfront costs of the data retention obligations.

More information will be available on http://www.ag.gov.au/dataretention .

Questions can also be emailed to cac@ag.gov.au or you can call the Office of the Communications Access Co-ordinator on 02 6141 2884.