Some three months after the ACCC handed down its Digital Platforms Inquiry, and the competition watchdog tsar Rod Sims is as keen as ever to further regulate tech giants Google and Facebook.
While both Google and Facebook have critiqued some of the 23 recommendations made by the ACCC in the 600-page report, Sims told an event in Perth yesterday the tech giants need to “take more responsibility” for problems associated with the platforms.
“They created the platform, they curate it, they guide the algorithms, they make a lot of money out of it,” Sims told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia lunch in Perth yesterday.
“They’ve got to take more responsibility.”
Pointing to the 19 million Australians using Google, the 17 million accessing Facebook and the 11 million on Instagram, Sims called into question the ‘data monetisation’ business model that has made these companies so successful.
He suggested that current laws are “out of date” to deal with the data and privacy concerns that come with such a business model and called for a “fundamental change” to who can collect data.
As well as bolstering data privacy laws, Sims also told The Sydney Morning Herald more needs to be done to prevent these platforms merging with smaller companies in an effort to thwart competition.
“The recommendation we have about making sure when you’re assessing whether there’s a substantial lessening of competition and therefore a potential breach of the merger laws that you take into account potential competition and you take into account data,” Sims said.
“I think there’s complete agreement on that.
“If Australia doesn’t act on that everybody else will be, so we’ll be left behind. [There’s] absolutely uniformity on that.”
Although both Facebook and Google have taken exception to aspects of the report, both platforms have made concerted efforts to improve the working relationship with the local media in recent times.
But with news being an essential pillar of democracy, Sims was cautious of the role of these platforms in the news media due to “propensity for disinformation and misinformation”.
“The internet has improved the diversity of news but they are struggling and I think we lose a lot as a society if we don’t have a vibrant newspaper industry,” he said.