The chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has suggested Facebook users are entering potentially unfair contracts, amidst a national inquiry into the role of tech giants like Facebook in Australia’s digital media landscape.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims was speaking about the inquiry at The Australian’s Global Food Forum in Sydney on Tuesday, where he reportedly said the Cambridge Analytica scandal has been an awakening for many social media users who have only just realised how much data is being retained on them.
According to The Australian, Sims suggested users of the social media platform are agreeing to terms and conditions without comprehensively understanding what they are handing over to the platform. This contractual agreement, Sims suggested, falls in favour of the social media giant.
“Did they know that when they connected to another website, that Facebook was gathering data on that? It’s all in the terms and conditions if you want to have a look at them but I’m not sure many of us do,” Sims said at the forum.
He questioned how many users of technology platforms really understand how their data is being used and “to what extent” contracts with users are “fair”.
“I know Facebook have said, well, you know, people agreed to this. Well, I suspect 80 percent of people in this room are Facebook users and I would be interested to know how many know what they signed up to,” Sims said.
The ACCC launched an inquiry in December into the digital media market and how businesses compete with each other as part of a media reform package proposed by the federal government.
According to The Australian, the ACCC is also looking into how Facebook bargains with publishers and the relationship between the platform’s algorithm and digital journalism.
The ACCC has been cracking down on unfair contracts that favour big businesses over small businesses since November 2016, when amendments to Australian Consumer Law were passed through Parliament.