Industry should not be punished for the incompetence of George Brandis, who struggles to explain metadata, and who took an astounding 530 days after the passage of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015 to announce the outcomes of the Data Retention Industry Grants Programme in September last year.
Given the complexity and burden of the compliance task on industry, as well as additional delays in the completion of grant funding agreements, it would be wholly unreasonable for the Government to come down like a ton of bricks on service providers genuinely working to comply with the regime.
Yet the Attorney-General’s Department has been writing to service providers to remind them that they must be fully compliant by today.
Many service providers are under immense pressure to meet the deadline.
In the interests of fairness and certainty, the Attorney-General should publicly commit that Government will work cooperatively with industry over coming months, and that no action will be taken against any service provider that is genuinely working to comply with the regime, but has been disadvantaged by the slow pace of Government decision-making.
Further, the Attorney-General urgently needs to heed warnings from ISPs like iiNet and consumer advocates such as the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), and clarify whether the scheme’s ongoing annual operating costs will fall to service providers and, ultimately, be passed on to consumers.
Industry and consumers should not have to suffer for the incompetence of the hapless Attorney-General, George Brandis.