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Australian regulator calls for new competition laws for digital platforms




By Reuters | Updated: 27 November 2023 

Nov 27 (Reuters) – Australia’s competition watchdog said on Monday new competition laws were required in response to the rapid expansion of digital platforms such as Amazon (AMZN.O), Apple (AAPL.O), Google (GOOGL.O), Meta (META.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) in the country.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in its latest report for the Digital Platform Services Inquiry raised concerns that expansion of these platforms has increased the risk of them engaging in harmful behaviour such as invasive data collection and practices that lock in customers and limit their choices.

“Our proposed reforms include a call for targeted consumer protections and service-specific codes to prevent anti-competitive conduct by particular designated digital platforms,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

ACCC has not made specific findings of anti-competitive conduct, but said digital platforms with significant market power can use practices such as the bundling of products, and pre-installation and default settings to limit customer choice or deter innovation from competitors.

The aforementioned five digital platforms did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for a comment.

In terms of data collection practices, ACCC found that these providers have greater access to rich consumer data via expansion, and it is not always clear from the relevant privacy policies if the data collected exceeds that which is required for device functionality or product improvement.

The regulator has also proposed new mandatory obligations on all digital platforms to address scams, harmful apps, fake reviews, including notice and action requirements and stronger verification of business users and reviews.

Must ensure competition laws are fit-for-purpose to respond to the potential challenges posed by emerging technologies such as generative AI and virtual reality, ACCC said.

Earlier this year, ACCC said it would probe the country’s fast-evolving ecosystem of digital platform service providers as part of a five-year inquiry into the sector.

© Thomson Reuters 2023