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Radio welcomes ACCC recommendations for greater oversight of digital platforms

13 December, 2018, 20:47 | Author: Sara Gill
  • 3 simple, mind-blowing numbers that show the dominance of Google and Facebook in Australian advertising

Rod Sims, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman said, "When you get to a certain stage and you get market power, which both Google and Facebook have, with that comes special responsibilities and that means, also, additional scrutiny".

"Some of them are allegations that could sit under competition law which would go to issues of market power", he added, without specifying which firms they concerned.

The ACCC this morning released the preliminary report of its digital platforms inquiry, which concluded that both companies possess "substantial market power" in a number of areas.

In a report, the ACCC argued that the dominance of platforms like Facebook and Google - who derive a vast majority of their revenue from advertising - demands increased regulatory oversight.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in a preliminary report on the USA firms' market power that extra oversight was justified to ensure advertisers were treated fairly and the public access to news was unfettered. Digital advertising has increased substantially in Australia in recent years, rising from less than $1 billion in 2005 to nearly $8 billion in 2017. Google handles 94 per cent of online searches in Australia, and Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, have by a significant margin the largest audience in Australia of any social platform.

It also includes a proposal, albeit an unlikely one to achieve, that would stop Google's internet Chrome browser being installed as a default internet browser on mobile devices, computers and tables; and Google's search engine being installed as a default search engine on internet browsers.

In particular, it looks at the ability of media businesses to monetise their content and the extent to which consumers' data is collected and used to target advertising.

Other areas identified for further investigation in the ACCC's preliminary report included signalling where news stories came from, obligations to delete users' data, whether users should be able to opt out of targeted advertising, and measures to fund news and journalism in Australia. "To make the most of opportunities that digital platforms bring, and to provide the right safeguards for the community, it is important that the regulatory environment remains fit-for-purpose".

The report sparked questions about the range and reliability of news available via Google and Facebook.

Australia's government ordered the probe into the firms' influence as part of wider media reforms, amid growing concern for the future of journalism and the quality of news following years of declining profits and newsroom job cuts.

The ACCC said it is further considering a recommendation for a specific code of practice for digital platforms' data collection to better inform consumers and improve their bargaining power.

The problem for a regulator like the ACCC is that the digital giants' business model is hard to regulate; their market dominance is derived from people's willingness to surrender their data freely, in exchange for the perceived value of being able to look at your sister's baby photos or find things online.



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