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Optus Joins iiNet In Warning Federal Data Retention Proposals Will Increase Prices

Image: Getty/ Joe Raedle

Optus has warned that the Government’s proposed metadata retention scheme could cost the company up to $200 million, and that it will likely be passed on to customers.

In an internal memo prepared for Optus management, the Australian telco giant says that inadequate recognition has been given to the true cost and business impact of the plan, the AFR reported.

While telecommunications companies admit to collecting and storing consumer data, Optus says this information varies considerably between fixed, mobile, internet and web-mail services and that the government’s plan would require “substantial additional data storage and inquiry capability.”

“Based on work done in 2010 and refreshed in 2012, a data-retention regime could cost Optus in the order of $30-plus million to $200-plus million, depending on a range of assumptions about scope and definition,” the memo says.

Optus said that a universal interpretation of the term ‘metadata’ must be also sought, as there is no one definitive definition.

Australian security agencies revealed that phone call details (date, time, length, location and identities) would need to be stored for up to two years, and that a record of every website visited, and when, must also be maintained.

Australia’s second largest internet service provider said consumers could be paying more than $10 extra a month – $130 per year – just for internet access as a result of the retention scheme.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has admitted the potential for substantial expenditure if the Government’s proposal is implemented.

“[If] telcos are required to re­cord, store and make accessible new classes of data in large volumes, then there obviously will be a significant cost.”

Attorney-General George Brandis – who unsuccessfully attempted to explain metadata on live television – and Malcolm Turnbull have been split on a range of policy decisions over the past few weeks.

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