The Australian Government seems set on being the world-leader in digital regulation.
Earlier this month we published an article that enquired into where the regulation of Facebook might be headed. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a report that may provide some insight.
The report is the result of the year-long Digital Platforms Inquiry into the market power of Facebook and Google. It concludes that the companies are dominating the advertising market and have a monopoly-like hold over traditional news media outlets.
The report also recommends that two new regulatory bodies, an ombudsman and an external regulator, should have the power to monitor Facebook and Google’s algorithms and their distribution of digital traffic. A major motivation for these recommendations was to protect user privacy and personal data. One of the architects of the inquiry, Senator Stirling Griff, has stated that the Australian Government "will certainly end up following the recommendations".
This is a rather strong statement considering that Facebook and Google have yet to respond to the ACCC's findings. It is likely the digital giants will not be in favour of regulation, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has raised valid concerns about the ability of an external body with regulatory authority to abuse that power.
It is still unclear whether the proposed reforms will have consequences in New Zealand. Business reporters have accused the New Zealand Government of not being "so fussed by declining news media fortunes here". If the Commerce Commission determines that the findings are equally applicable to our market, one option may be to use the report as a basis for national recommendations.
Another option is to wait and see how the imminent battle between the law-makers, the regulators and the platform-creators will play out.
A powerful new authority to oversee the commercial activities of Google and Facebook has been recommended by Australia’s competition regulator in a landmark report on how to ensure the multinational digital behemoths behave fairly.