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01 August 2019

Australian Competition Authority Launches Crackdown On Tech Giants

The Australian competition watchdog has launched a widespread crackdown on the tech giants with a series of recommendations including requiring the platforms to provide authorities with codes recognising the need for value sharing with news media publishers.

Publishing its final Digital Platforms Inquiry report, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission made 23 recommendations designed to tackle the “many adverse effects” caused by the dominance of Google and Facebook.

These effects include:

  • News content creators are reliant on the dominant digital platforms, yet face difficulties in monetising their content;
  • 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;
  • Australian society, like others around the world, has been impacted by disinformation and a rising mistrust of news.

The ACCC has made a series of recommendations to address the digital platforms’ impact on Australian media businesses and how Australians access ­­­­­­news including:

  • Requiring designated digital platforms to each provide the Australian Communications and Media Authority with codes to address the imbalance in the bargaining relationship between these platforms and news media businesses and recognise the need for value sharing and monetisation of content;
  • Addressing the regulatory imbalance that exists between news media businesses and digital platforms, by harmonizing the media regulatory framework;
  • Introducing measures to encourage philanthropic funding of public interest journalism in Australia;
  • ACMA monitoring the digital platforms’ efforts to identify reliable and trustworthy news;
  • Requiring the digital platforms to draft and implement an industry code for handling complaints about deliberately misleading and harmful news stories;
  • Introducing a mandatory take-down ACMA code to assist copyright enforcement on 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.

“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.”