by Rebecca Merrett

Budget 2015: Industry criticise $295.8M on security, $153.8M on data retention

May 13, 20152 mins

Industry representatives affected by the Abbott Government’s push on security and data retention in last night’s Federal Budget have spoken out against the plans.

The Government is putting $295.8 million over six years towards the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) for upgrading ICT systems and strengthening its capabilities.

In addition, the mandatory data retention scheme, which became law in March 2015, will receive $153.8m over four years, with $131.3m of that supporting storage costs for telco companies.

“We believe industry costs of complying with data retention will go well beyond current estimates and industry will need to engage strongly with the Government to work through the details,” said Chris Althaus, CEO of Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), in response to the data retention figures.

“The devil will be in the detail and the challenge will be how to apportion across industry the relatively small contribution to industry costs of $131 million allocated in last night’s Budget.”

David Cake from Electronic Frontiers Australia pointed out that only $10.9m of the $153.8m for data retention is directed at protecting citizens’ privacy, the rest being spent on spying on them.

“But that is only the start. Much of the money spent on intelligence agency ICT upgrades will be devoted to the infrastructure to use that data – and data collected by overseas intelligence agencies, much of which will be data collected on Australian citizens outside of Australian law – to monitor and track us,” he claimed.

“The government is cutting spending in many areas, but notably increasing spending significantly on their capacity to do surveillance, monitor and invade the privacy of its citizens. Their priorities are clear.”

Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam, who had actively fought against data retention in Parliament, yesterday said that using tax payers’ money for mass surveillance is an “absolute disgrace” and “probably amounts to less than half the total amount of running the data retention mass surveillance program”.

In addition to strengthening security and data retention, the government is spending $17.6m on a new Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) data centre.

ASIS and AFP have also been contacted for comment.