In a statement issued on Monday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said a discussion paper, released on the same day, looked at possible ways of tackling issues in social media, search app marketplaces, online retail and ad technology.
Last year, news media laws drafted by the ACCC were put in place so that big digital firms could negotiate monetary deals with media organisations. While some organisations have reached agreement on payment, others — SBS and The Conversation are two prominent examples — have not been able to reach satisfactory deals.
Commenting on the call for input, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: “The upcoming fifth report will mark the halfway point of the Digital Platform Services Inquiry. Now is the time to consider whether further reforms are needed to supplement the important tools in Australia’s competition and consumer law to maintain a vibrant digital economy that drives innovation and enhances productivity.
“These platforms hold powerful positions in the economy and society and can often dictate terms to businesses that use their services. This in turn can harm consumers and the small businesses that rely on them, including through higher prices, greater use of personal data, reduced choice, less innovation or lower quality products.”
The discussion paper lists measures that could form part of a new regulatory setup to increase competition and increase consumer welfare.
“Since the ACCC began examining digital platform services in 2017, large digital platforms such as Google, Apple and Meta (Facebook's parent company) have continued to grow and expand their impact and influence on the economy and our day-to-day lives,” Sims said.
“It is clear that large digital platforms are often protected by high barriers to entry and expansion, and in some cases, they have become ‘gatekeepers’, acting as critical intermediaries between businesses and consumers, and controlling access to consumers.
“We are looking at whether we need additional laws or reform to make the online environment fairer for businesses and safer for consumers."