The Australian Communications Alliance released a statement today claiming that ambiguity lingers over the funding Australian Telephone companies will receive to recover the costs of implementing the state initiated data retention program.
Almost a year has passed since the Australian Government enacted legislation for the data retention program, including a provision for telephone companies to retain customer data. The law was passed with the support of the Australian Labor party. Telephone companies however, are still unaware about the funding they will receive to cover the capital cost of setting up the surveillance program.
According to the federal budget of 2015-16, a total of $131.3 million was supposedly allocated to be disbursed over three years for the implementation of the surveillance program. By 2016, the government initiated its grant package to provide $128.4 million to participating telephone companies. However, according to a detailed investigation, the cost of setting up the data retention program is estimated around $188.8 to $319.1 million.
Telephone companies are expecting the Australian Government’s working group of the data retention program to review the new costs. The official government review will establish individual subsidies for all participating service providers. In Accordance to provisions of the Australian Telecommunications Amendment Bill 2015, ISPs and telecom providers will be required to retain metadata of their customers’ communications for up to 24 months.