Report Overview

ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry – more regulation on the horizon

Google and Facebook have made their submissions relating to the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry.
Both tech giants have focused their attention on the ACCC’s recommendation for the need to establish an “algorithm” regulator.
If implemented it will have major consequences for the tech giants and potentially other players.
On 4th December 2017, the Treasurer, Scott Morrison directed the ACCC to conduct an inquiry into digital platforms such as Facebook and Google. The inquiry was tasked with looking into the impact of digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content aggregation platforms on competition in the media and advertising industry. In particular the inquiry was directed to look at the impact of digital platforms on the supply of news and journalistic content and the implications for content creators, advertisers, consumers and media owners.
On 11th December 2018, the ACCC released its preliminary report on the inquiry. The preliminary report expressed concerns over the market power of the key digital platforms, the lack of transparency in digital platforms’ operations and key algorithms, the reduction of professional journalists in Australia and the relative lack of consumer awareness about the information collected by digital platforms. The report also issued eleven preliminary recommendations with a key focus on tasking a regulatory authority (perhaps the ACMA) on monitoring, investigating and reporting on digital platforms’ advertising arrangements and news rankings. Note: For a more detailed look at ACCC’s recommendations, see our report – ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry – Google and Facebook have just been put on notice.  
Both Facebook and Google have made their submissions in response to the ACCC’s preliminary report. In this note, we outline some of the key takeaways from their response and recent commentary from the ACCC on this matter.