The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) is set to start prying into big tech’s sprawling interconnected web of services and products.
The watchdog is seeking submissions for an issues paper from consumers, businesses and interested stakeholders about the investment decisions made by the likes of Google, Meta, and Microsoft.
“Australian consumers and businesses are increasingly reliant on the products and services offered by digital platforms so it’s crucial we examine how these companies are expanding their reach,” said ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb.
An interim report will be published as part of the ACCC’s five-year Digital Platform Services Inquiry and will use examples such as the expansion into consumer cloud storage and smart home devices to investigate the relationships between digital platforms and the services they offer.
“Large digital platforms have become an integral part of our daily lives, they have access to enormous user databases and personal information across their ecosystems,” said Cass-Gottlieb.
“This report will assess how that data can be leveraged across products and services within an ecosystem that may prevent businesses from entering and competing.
“Interconnected products, like smart home devices and cloud storage solutions, can provide consumers with a seamless experience that simplifies everyday tasks, but it’s important that competition and consumers are not harmed as digital platforms invest across different sectors and technologies and expand their reach.”
The report will also examine the expansion strategies used by the platforms and how these have affected the interoperability of products and services across ecosystems. It will also examine whether consumers have become locked-in to platforms’ ecosystems through bundling, tying, or self-preferencing products to inhibit competition.
Excessive collection and potentially problematic use of personal data and other devious tactics, such as dark patterns to confuse or manipulate consumers will, also be considered.
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