ACCC calls for sweeping reforms to curb the powers of digital media giants

| July 29, 2019

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has just released its final report for the Digital Platforms Inquiry, advocating for ‘significant, holistic’ reform of the sector.

The ACCC report has serious ramifications for privacy law reform in Australia, as well as competition, as well as globally. It can either have massive impact – or disappear in a cloud of heavy-duty lobbying.

One of the many notable quotes in the report is:

“However, the ACCC’s view is that few consumers are fully informed of, fully understand, or effectively control, the scope of data collected and the bargain they are entering into with digital platforms when they sign up for, or use, their services.”

“There is a substantial disconnect between how consumers think their data should be treated and how it is actually treated.”

How long has IIS (Information Integrity Solutions) been saying this? Probably for the life of the company!

However, ACCC, like the Productivity Commission before it, still falls into the trap of thinking that transparency to consumer + genuine control with realistic options is sufficient.

Unfortunately, it is not.

We regulate differently to ensure we have safe cars, safe machinery, safe buildings, safe pharmaceuticals, safe professionals such as doctors etc, etc.

We do this because society has formed the view that individuals are NOT in a position to protect themselves simply through those two elements. Even the ad tech market can no longer understand its own market sufficiently to describe it to itself!

Similarly, the same now also goes for the complexity of data, data analytics and data use.
Instead, we will need to apply to personal information the tried and true model that has rendered society safe in all these other circumstances:

Rules/Standards/Laws + Enforcement by independent third parties

The ACCC recommendations in regard to strengthening the privacy framework in Australia, especially Recommendations 16-19, are all excellent in their own right. However they do not go far enough, or look sufficiently into the future.