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Greater regulations for digital platforms

Last week, the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its recommendations for digital platforms.

“Our recommendations are comprehensive and forward-looking and deal with the many competition, consumer, privacy and news media issues we have identified throughout the course of this Inquiry,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

The recommendations come after concerns were raised about the impact that massive digital platforms like Facebook and Google can have on the market, ranging from distorted market power to privacy issues.

In an official statement, the competition regulator highlighted six adverse impacts of major digital platforms without an adequate regulatory framework:

  • The market power of Google and Facebook has distorted the ability of businesses to compete on their merits in advertising, media and a range of other markets;

  • The digital advertising markets are opaque with highly uncertain money flows, particularly for automated and programmatic advertising;

  • Consumers are not adequately informed about how their data is collected and used and have little control over the huge range of data collected;

  • News content creators are reliant on the dominant digital platforms, yet face difficulties in monetising their content; and

  • Australian society, like others around the world, has been impacted by disinformation and a rising mistrust of news.

“Importantly, our recommendations are dynamic in that they will provide the framework and the information that governments and communities will need to address further issues as they arise. Our goal is to assist the community in staying up-to-date with these issues and futureproofing our enforcement, regulatory and legal frameworks,” Sims continued.

The recommendations range from changes in merger laws, to proactive investigation, to monitoring and enforcement issues in markets in which digital platforms operate, to the strengthening of privacy laws.

Government response

The Government welcomed the ACCC’s recommendations and has said that they are committed to a ‘harmonised’ regulatory framework.

“The Government recognises that news and journalism is an important public good and that with Digital Platforms collecting and using large volumes of personal information, consumers need to be properly informed about the data collected, how it is being used and by whom,” a spokesperson from the Government said, in in response to the publication of the ACCC report.

The Government will finalise their response to the ACCC report by the end of the year.

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