Australian watchdog calls for tighter regulation of Big Tech firms

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has called for the creation of new competition laws in response to the rapid expansion of Big Tech firms in the country.

The ACCC has published its latest report for the Digital Platform Services Inquiry, in which it raises concerns that the expansion of companies like Meta, Google and Amazon into Australia increases the risk of them engaging in harmful behaviour such as invasive data collection.

The report does not specify evidence of any anti-competitive conduct, but warns that allowing digital platforms to have such significant market power enables them to use practices like bundling products and pre-installing apps to deter innovation.

In addition to the above companies, the report also specifically names Apple and Microsoft as Big Tech firms who are expanding in Australia.

All of the companies, the report notes, have greater access to rich consumer data as a result of their expansion in the country, and their privacy policies do not make it clear whether the data collected exceeds that which is required for device functionality or product improvement.

The ACCC’s proposed new mandatory obligations would address scams and harmful apps while requiring stronger verification of business users and reviews. The ACCC also said that any laws introduced must respond to the potential challenges posed by emerging technologies like generative artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Commenting on the report, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, chairperson of the ACCC, said: "Our proposed reforms include a call for targeted consumer protections and service-specific codes to prevent anti-competitive conduct by particular designated digital platforms.”

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