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ACCC Set To Take On Digital Giants With New Laws

The competition watchdog is running more than 10 investigations into digital platforms following its long-running review and is planning to introduce new laws to confront unfair practices by the juggernauts.

Addressing a Sydney business lunch on Tuesday, ACCC chairman Rod Sims set his agenda for the year by saying he was confident the watchdog would produce several enforcement actions against Facebook and Google in both consumer and competition protection. User data, he said, is at the forefront of its concerns.

‘We are looking at both competition and consumer issues in relation to digital platforms — those two areas are pretty closely linked. With digital platforms it’s really all about the data that can be misleading to consumers in terms of what’s collected and how it’s collected.

‘But it can also be a competitive advantage in stopping others getting the data, which can cause a competition problem,’ Sims said, The Australian reports.

Sims also revealed that the number of investigations into digital platforms had doubled in the six months since releasing its report into the impacts of digital platforms on traditional media.

(AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

‘We mentioned in our report in July that we had five active investigations; I think we have now more than doubled that. We have a lot of investigations and we are just trying to prioritise which ones matter most. But I’m very confident we’ll have a number of enforcement actions this year in relation to digital platforms.’

Sims also announced his plans to extend general laws that applies to misleading consumers under Australian law to fairness provisions.

It comes as the ACCC is in the process of taking Google to court over allegedly misleading consumers about their data use and collection via location services.

Sims also highlighted the $5 billion fines recently slapped against Facebook in the US under anti-trust law, saying it’s beginning to change the way digital giants are operating.

(Photo: Christophe Gateau/dpa)

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