Thursday, 12 September 2019 21:04

Digital group says 'no' to code of conduct on fake news Featured

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Digital group says 'no' to code of conduct on fake news Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

An industry lobby group, that represents the interests of Google and Facebook among others, has told the Australian Government that it does not agree with the creation of an industry code of conduct on fake news, one of the recommendations in the final Digital Platforms Inquiry report released by the ACCC on 26 July.

The Digital Industry Group, which also counts Twitter and Verizon Media among its founders, urged the Government to consider the "unintended consequences" raised by the recommendations and undertake broader consultation before any major reforms are announced.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had recommended a code of practice to regulate the digital ad industry and to govern issues around inaccurate information, with the Australia Communications and Media Authority to handle enforcement.

In a submission to the public consultation on the final report, released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, DIGI said it had issues with numerous recommendations among the 23 made by ACCC chief Rod Sims in the final report.

DIGI said the reaction of platforms to what was considered to be fake news would differ: "...an appropriate intervention for disinformation for a post on a public
platform (such as content signalling or removal) may be considered as intrusive and inappropriate on a private messaging platform".

"An appropriate intervention on one platform (such as partnerships with third-party fact-checkers) may be cost-prohibitive and unscalable for another. Therefore, the idea of a one-size-fits-all industry code of conduct is problematic in relation to disinformation, as it does not take into account variables that impact content moderation in this area."

The organisation also objected to the ACCC's recommendation on a mandatory takedown code for enforcing copyright on digital platforms.

"DIGI members dedicate significant resources to processing copyright removal requests. The proposed 'mandatory industry code' would represent a significant departure from the globally accepted legal standards and norms for issuing take-down notices that are relied upon by online service providers and content creators around the world," the submission said.

It added that insisting on platforms to “proactively identify and prevent the distribution of copyright-infringing content online” would create a number of problems.

"First of all, it relies on detection technologies with ample room for error, particularly when deployed in real time," the submission stated. "Furthermore, there are few commercially available solutions and, where they exist, they function for some content types but not others.

"Secondly, the development of product-customised technology can be cost-prohibitive industry-wide."

DIGI did not approve of the changes recommended by the ACCC to merger law, saying: "It is disappointing to see this recommendation was retained in the final report, with a slight expansion of scope, without addressing the concerns raised by many in the technology industry.

"It is also concerning that the evidence base that the ACCC DPI final report provides for this recommendation is a chapter that does not consider the technology industry at large, nor analysis of the implications previously raised about this recommendation."

The Federal Government has said that it would give its final response to the report by the end of the year.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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