Taking a broad approach to digital platforms issues

6 August 2020

As the digital platforms play an increasingly important role in the economy, consumer and competition enforcement and regulation must keep pace, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said today.

Speaking to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) via a streaming video application, Mr Sims addressed a number of the ACCC’s key concerns about the growing economic power and influence of the digital platforms, and said regulators globally must keep pace.

Mr Sims said the ACCC’s recent actions against Google are about holding powerful digital platform businesses accountable for representations made to consumers.

“We believe that consumers have the right to know and make informed choices about their use of digital services, particularly how their personal data is being collected and used for the supposedly free services,” Mr Sims said.

“They are not free; everything has a cost.”

Mr Sims also spoke about the need to address the bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms.

“We are concerned that business, including Australian media businesses, can continue to compete on their merits in the digital age,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims also addressed the ACCC’s concerns about how past and future acquisitions of rivals by the digital platforms could entrench their market power, by providing them with advantages of scale and reducing competition.

“What we don’t want is for large platforms such as Google and Facebook to remove possible rivals that may have otherwise emerged, possibly in partnership with others, as vigorous and effective competitors to their core services,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims said that existing regulatory frameworks have not held up well to the challenges of digitalisation.

“Of course our focus is on both consumer and competition enforcement and regulation, so investigating and pursuing what needs to be done to protect consumers and allow businesses to compete on their merits in the growing digital economy is now a core part of the our work, as it needs to be,” Mr Sims said.

“We are optimistic we and our fellow regulators and enforcers around the globe can deal with these issues but it requires a multi-faceted approach that includes competition assessment, regulatory responses and consumer enforcement.”

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