Thursday, 12 December 2019 13:15

Government response to Digital Platforms Inquiry gets thumbs up from ACCC Featured

By
ACCC Chair Rod Sims ACCC Chair Rod Sims

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to the adoption of key recommendations from its Digital Platforms Inquiry, saying they address its main competition and consumer priorities, including concerns about privacy and the use of data.

The ACCC says it will continue its work in digital platform markets through the establishment of a permanent Digital Platforms Branch, which will enable “continuous and consistent scrutiny of digital platforms, and current and future consumer and competition law enforcement cases”.

In addition, the ACCC says it will start a new inquiry into the digital advertising tech supply chain, focusing on digital display ads.

Commenting after the announcement on Thursday by the Government that it will provide $26.9 million for the ACCC to monitor digital platforms, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said, “We are delighted that the Government has recognised the significance of the ACCC’s findings on the impact of the leading digital platforms on competition, consumer, privacy, media and advertising markets”.

“We’re proud that Australia will now be one of the first countries in the world to develop such a comprehensive roadmap for broad reforms relating to digital platforms.

“Google and Facebook have grown to have almost unfettered market power with significant impacts on consumers that must be addressed.”

The Government’s response includes tasking the ACCC to oversee the development of a new code that will address the inherent power imbalance between platforms and media companies in Australia.”

Sims also said that the Government’s announcement also takes steps towards ensuring news media businesses and digital platforms operate on a more equal regulatory footing, and that local journalism is supported.

“The impact of digitalisation and digital platforms on the Australian media and, in particular, vitally important local and regional news and journalism has been stark and extremely concerning,” Sims said.

“We are pleased that this is being addressed by the Government, along with the regulatory imbalance between the platforms and media businesses. An additional code of conduct will also be developed to address disinformation, which is a growing concern globally.

“The ACCC will be working closely with the Prime Minister’s Digital Technology Taskforce, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and other agencies to ensure all of these reforms are addressed in a holistic way.”

“We will also continue our close engagement with overseas competition and consumer agencies on these important issues.”

Sims said the ACCC findings and recommendations regarding the use of data, and privacy protections also form part of the Government’s plans, which include steps to ensure consumers are adequately informed about how their data is collected, and to provide consumers with greater control over how it is used.

“We’re also pleased with the work underway to make unfair contract terms illegal, and how an unfair trading prohibition could be adopted.”

“The world is waking up to the very real harms that stem from the power the digital platforms hold in our society and for our economy.

“The good news is it is not too late to ensure Australian businesses, consumers and society can benefit from the advances offered by digital platforms, while ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place to address the negative impacts,” Sims concluded.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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