ACCC tsar Rod Sims believes the highly-publicised Digital Platforms Inquiry is already having a positive impact on the Australian industry.
Speaking at the CPRC Conference, Sims said recent policy changes from both Google and Facebook are “vindication” the 23 recommendations from the report are being taken seriously by these tech giants.
“When there is sufficient pressure on their behaviour, the digital platforms are willing to have genuine negotiations and recognise the role they perform in news distribution,” he said.
Sims was referring to Facebook’s upcoming Facebook News Tab content aggregator for news stories and Google’s algorithm changes to promote original journalism.
He also pointed out Facebook had announced its new privacy-focused ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ feature and a host of partnerships with local news businesses since the Final Report was handed down.
“While we are already seeing some fightback by vested interests, we are also seeing some initial change from the digital platforms,” he said.
“Concerted pressure produces change, and that change also emphasises the need to maintain the pressure.”
The government is expected to issue its response to the report by the end of the year.
Although Sims was bullish about the early impact of the Digital Platforms Inquiry, many of the changes he pointed out have been initiated at a global level.
He suggested the ACCC’s response is indicative of a global movement.
“We have not been alone in acting against the digital platforms,” Sims said, pointing major fines handed down by the likes of the European Union and the US Federal Trade Commission.
“If anyone was to doubt the influence and commercial effect on consumer markets, you only have to look at some of the verdicts and the penalties coming from investigations around the world.
“All these cases and subsequent judgements provide welcome precedents for regulators worldwide.”
Despite welcoming some of the recent changes delivered by both Facebook and Google, Sims still had a number of concerns around how these companies impact consumers.
He suggested, “vague, long and complex” data policies have created a “disconnect” between how consumers think their data will be treated and what actually happens.
“A lack of clear information reduces consumers’ ability to make informed choices based on how their data will be handled, in turn preventing competition on this important element of digital platforms’ service offerings,” he said.
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