The Telecommunications (Interception And Access)
Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015

13 October 2015

The Government welcomes the commencement of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015 today.

Metadata is the basic building block in nearly every counter-terrorism, counter-espionage and organised and major crime investigation. It is also essential for the investigation of child abuse and child pornography offences, that are frequently carried out online, and other forms of organised crime.

With the expiry of the initial six month implementation period, telecommunications companies can apply for an extension of up to 18 months (April 2017) to comply with the legislation.

The Government continues to work constructively with the industry to achieve full compliance by April 2017.

Over $131 million has been committed by the Government to contribute to the upfront capital costs of the scheme.

Telecommunications companies have always retained metadata and law enforcement agencies have been permitted access to these records for decades, however industry practices have varied. The new scheme implements a uniform standard.

The Data Retention Act standardises the timeframe and type of data held giving law enforcement and national security agencies consistent information of the kind they need to keep the community safe.

The Act also introduced new and strengthened safeguard arrangements, in particular by significantly reducing the number of agencies that can access metadata.

The Attorney-General's Department is finalising details of a grants program and it is expected that payments will be made early next year, well before April 2017.

The Government will continue to work closely with industry; the focus will be on implementation rather than enforcement.