Earlier this year, the Senate passed legislation that requires Australian telcos and ISPs to retain metadata for 2 years, unless they receive an exemption. Our earlier blog post discusses the metadata retention legislation in detail.

One of the key concerns of industry has been the substantial compliance costs expected to implement and operate the scheme; indicative upfront capital costs have been estimated to be around $189 to $319 million.  In February, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security recommended that the Government make a substantial contribution to assist industry shoulder these upfront costs, a recommendation which was supported by the Government in March.  It has previously been unclear how substantial this Government contribution would be.

Breakdown of funding

The Government will distribute the funding as follows:

  • $131.3 million over the next three years will be given to industry in the form of Commonwealth grants, to assist them develop the capability to meet the obligations under the scheme;
  • $10.6 million over the next four years will be given to agencies to provide technical guidance to industry, undertake risk and technical assessments and support the development of standards and specifications for data retention systems;
  • $6.7 million over the next four year will be given to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, to meet the statutory oversight responsibilities under the new scheme;
  • $4.2 million over the next four years will be given to the Privacy Commissioner to provide oversight of the privacy implications arising from the metadata law and the Foreign Fighters legislation; and
  • $1 million over the next four years will be spent on the Australian Communications Media Authority to undertake enforcement action to ensure telecommunications service providers comply with metadata retention obligations.

Privacy Commissioner

The Government still intends to disband the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), the statutory agency of which the Privacy Commissioner forms a part, and to instead create an independent statutory position of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner within the Human Rights Commission.  However, in the interim, the Government in the 2015 Budget has also committed transitional funding of $1.7 million to the OAIC for its 2015-2016 operations.