ACCC considers options to better regulate big tech

Rod Sims ACCC

ACCC chair Rod Sims.

Australia’s competition watchdog is considering a new regulatory framework to combat the dominance of big digital platforms.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking views from consumers, businesses and other parties on options for legislative reform to protect against anti-competitive conduct.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said momentum was building internationally to address the competition and consumer harms arising from big tech companies.

“These platforms hold powerful positions in the economy and society and can often dictate terms to businesses that use their services,” Sims said in a statement.

“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 ACCC has released a new discussion paper outlining potential measures as part of a possible new regulatory framework.

A new regulatory framework could introduce measures that protect against anti-competitive preferencing of a platform’s own services, barriers to entry including access to data, and bargaining imbalances.

The discussion paper came as the federal government announced it would commence a review into the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

Australia led the way last year in introducing the code to address the bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and digital platforms.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher said the review would consider whether the code was achieving its objectives.

He said Google and Facebook had reached commercial agreements with some Australian news media businesses, but noted some organisations had been unable to reach a commercial deal.

“We urge the digital platforms to continue negotiating in good faith,” Fletcher said.

This article was first published by The Mandarin.

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