Digital Platforms Inquiry by ACCC
Digital platform services are being put under the microscope thanks to the new Digital Platforms Inquiry being conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Digital platforms can include search engines (e.g. Google, Bing), social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter) and content aggregators (e.g. Google News, Apple News or Reddit).
The inquiry will examine how these technology giants are disrupting the advertising landscape in Australia and whether they are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media and advertisers. Last Monday, the ACCC released its key issues paper for the inquiry, and began accepting submissions on the matters from consumers, media organisations, digital platforms, advertising agencies and advertisers.
Why conduct this inquiry?
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims recognises its importance in understanding the “sweeping technological and cultural changes overhauling the media landscape in Australia and globally”. The inquiry comes in the wake of a growing concern about the use of data by digital platforms to spread “fake news” and diverting advertising away from traditional media.
“Our aim is also to understand better the digital platforms’ business models and how they operate behind the scenes, and the evolving nature of the way consumers search for and receive news in Australia. We are particularly interested in the extent to which digital platforms curate news and journalistic content”, Sims said.
The ACCC inquiry will seek submissions on the following issues:
- the extent to which digital platforms exercise their market power in commercial dealings with the creators of journalistic content and advertisers
- the impact of digital platforms on the Australian media’s ability to fund and produce quality news and journalistic content
- the use of advanced algorithms to deliver targeted content to users and the effect of this on the diversity in news, and
- whether consumers understand what data is being collected about them by digital platforms, and how this data is being utilised.
Do I have to reply if I am contacted?
In addition to seeking public submissions, the ACCC can use its compulsory information gathering powers under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).
Voluntary submissions are also welcomed by the ACCC and must be submitted by 3 April 2018.
The ACCC intends to issue a preliminary report into its findings in December 2018.
McCullough Robertson would like to acknowledge the contributions of Shilpa Sagy, Graduate, to this article.
This publication covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. It is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.