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New data sovereignty framework launched

By Charbel Kadib
16 June 2021 | 1 minute read

All government data will now be stored onshore as part of a new strategy overseen by the Digital Transformation Agency. 

The Commonwealth has announced all government data would now need to be stored in onshore data centres with ‘Certified Strategic’ or ‘Certified Assured’ accreditation.

These new certification categories form part of the newly published Hosting Strategy, overseen by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA).

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The move, backed by Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert, is designed to improve the protection and security of Australian government data amid the rise in cyber security challenges.  

The new strategy would also require government data to be managed by cloud and managed service providers based in Australia, in a bid to bolster government controls across supply chains.

Macquarie Government, a subsidiary of Macquarie Telecom Group, has been named as one of only three data centre operators to be certified under the new framework.

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Managing director of Macquarie Government Aidan Tudehope welcomed the new arrangement, which he said would ensure greater security of Australia’s sovereign data.

“Recent events demonstrated the importance of protecting Australia’s critical sovereign data, and the infrastructure and hosting arrangements that store, protect and manage that data,” he said.

“Ensuring sensitive information is kept within Australian borders is vital to protecting our national security and privacy interests.”

Tudehope stressed that the firm’s centres are only controlled and accessed by Australian government security-cleared personnel.

“The government’s intent to prioritise local cloud and data storage service providers will set a strong example for the private sector to invest locally, ensuring Australia works towards enhancing its sovereign digital ecosystem that serves the national economy by providing world-class security for Australia’s sovereign data,” he added.

David Hirst, group executive of Macquarie Data Centres, said the company’s portfolio of Australian data centres would support both government workloads, and also hyperscale and SaaS.

“Our facilities continually measure up against rigorous global certification standards in terms of mechanics, engineering and build,” Hirst said.

“These certifications, along with the fact that we are one of the few integrated service providers to government, mean we are best placed to host critical information.”

Macquarie’s portfolio of data centres includes a new $17 million data centre in Canberra, which is expected to house "highly-classified" Commonwealth government data, including sensitive material stored by the Department of Defence.  

The Intellicentre 5 (IC5) facility is the latest of a $100 million investment in the construction of secure, sovereign Australian data centres in Sydney and Canberra.

The new centre is expected to offer further capacity for government cloud workloads and an additional secure facility to back up data.

The launch of the centre came just a week after it was reported that the Department of Defence extended a data storage contract with Chinese-owned firm Global Switch.

The deal, renewed in September, permits the company to continue storing data at its Ultimo facility in Sydney, despite the government’s previous commitment to relocate the information to a secure government-owned complex by 2020.

Secretary of Defence Greg Moriarty dismissed suggestions that the deal compromises sensitive national security information, insisting that Defence’s data is “safe and secure”.

He stressed that control and access of the Defence data stored at the Ultimo facility “remains under full operational control” of the federal government, adding that all sensitive data was removed from the storage centre in May 2020.

He added that Defence is taking a “rigorous, risk-based approach” to migrating the remaining “less sensitive” data to an alternate facility.

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres

New data sovereignty framework launched
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