Thursday, 06 August 2020 23:44

Regulators need to keep pace with growing power, influence of digital platforms, says ACCC chief Featured

ACCC Chair Rod Sims ACCC Chair Rod Sims

Regulators globally must keep pace with the growing economic power and influence of digital platforms, according to Rod Sims, the chief of Australia’s competition and consumer commission, the ACCC.

Sims, the ACCC chairman, said that as the digital platforms play an increasingly important role in the economy, consumer and competition enforcement and regulation must keep pace, telling the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) - via a streaming video application - that the Commission’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,” Sims said.

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

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,” Sims said.

Addressing 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, Sims said, “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.”

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,” 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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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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