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Oz asks how much personal data should telcos keep?

Obligations for carrier security, spook access also up for disucssion

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Australia’s government will consult with its citizenry to determine how much data telcos should retain about their activities, and how long it should be retained for.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has asked the nation’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to conduct public hearings on the topic.

The review will consider legislation governing the telecommunications industry and security agencies. The former is deemed worthy of review “… to ensure that vital investigative tools are not lost as telecommunications providers change their business practices and begin to delete data more regularly.”

Also up for discussion is which security agencies should be allowed to get their hands on telco records and the circumstances under which they will be permitted to do so.

Carriers will also come under the microscope on the issue of their obligations to ensure network security. Australia recently excluded Chinese vendor Huawei from contracts on the nation’s national broadband network (NBN), citing security concerns. The new hearings will be asked to consider “measures to address security risks posed to the telecommunications sector, and whether the Government needs to institute obligations on the Australian telecommunications industry to protect their networks from unauthorised interference.”

The Huawei issue was raised at recent hearings of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the NBN. Vodafone and Telstra were both asked about their use of Huawei kit at the Sydney hearings. Both responded that they see no threat from the company’s products. ®

Bootnote: One vendor that probably would not mind if Australia’s government forces telcos to retain data for many years is NetApp: the storage challenger numbers Australia’s leading telco – Telstra – among its most significant global customers.

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