Data retention: Industry uncertainty dismissed as 'hearsay'

Parliamentary committee seeks specific examples of companies that don't know if they will have to retain data

AIIA says some cloud and VoiP providers are not sure if data retention bill would apply to them.

AIIA says some cloud and VoiP providers are not sure if data retention bill would apply to them.

The parliamentary committee overseeing data retention legislation has requested more evidence that companies are unclear as to whether they will be forced to keep customer data under the government's proposed data retention scheme.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has pushed for a delay in the mandatory data retention bill to provide more time to clarify which organisations will be covered by the scheme.

The bill requires telecommunications companies to retain data for two years. However, AIIA CEO Suzanne Campbell said that cloud and over-the-top VoIP providers do not consider themselves to be providers of telecommunications services under the law. Rather, they believe that they provide applications, she said.

Anthony Byrne, a Labor MP on the committee, said that without giving “specific examples” and “hard evidence”, the claim by AIIA amounts to “hearsay.”

"Could you give examples ... about who doesn’t think data could be captured?” he asked. “I mean, you’ve said VoIP, but give me a more specific example.”

Campbell said she couldn’t give specific company names because the feedback the AIIA has received from members had been provided anonymously.

“I’m not at all happy with the characterisation of our evidence as hearsay,” she added. “We’re engaging in this process in good faith. Our members have provided us with their feedback. We represent their feedback in our submission.”

Labor's Mark Dreyfus, a former attorney-general, agreed with the call for more details on the concern from VoIP and cloud providers.

“[I]t’s apparent that the draft has made some attempt to be specific about who’s caught, it would be a real assistance to this committee in examining the detail of this legislation to have from you why it is that there is an uncertainty or a lack of clarity about who’s to be caught,” Dreyfus said.

Chairman Dan Tehan suggested that the AIIA file a confidential submission to the committee. Campbell said the AIIA would consider doing so.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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Tags surveillancedata retention billsecuritymandatory data retentionAustraliametadatadata retentionParliamentInternet industryAustralian Internet Industry Association (AIIA)

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