“Digital platform inquiry by Australia Competition and Consumer Commission” – A Good Read

Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently published their final report about the “Digital Platform Inquiry.” The whole report is long (more than 600 pages), so they issued an executive summary.

I came across this report by recommendation from a colleague. He knows that I am learning more about data privacy and innovation. He thinks that this report may be helpful, and it is.

The report uses the evidence-based approach (at least from my interpretation through the executive summary). Its language is direct with relevant data points. It provides 23 specific recommendations for the Australian government and other agencies. While the report mentions benefits that come with massive, global digital platforms, due to the nature of the inquiry, the majority of the report is about current/potential harms to consumers, businesses and the government (if they are not taking actions.) 

Digital platforms in the context of this report mean online search engines, social media platforms, and other digital content aggregation platforms. Two particular companies are singled out in the inquiry due to their influence, size, and significance. Clear data points are used here to articulate what the ACCC means by influence, size and significance i.e., market share, revenue share, future growth, default bias, etc. 

Of the 23 recommendations, I am on board with most of them. To me, this represents an excellent opportunity for digital platforms, media businesses, publishers, and other stakeholders to engage actively with the government to work on/debate upcoming policies. If anything, the inquiry highlights the need for further reform and new studies to be conducted.

  • I like recommendation ten regarding grants for local journalism. While I am not sure from a data point of view if the grant is the best way to support local journalism, I do think that local journalism is essential to democracy. 
  • Digital media literacy in the community (recommendation 12) and school (recommendation 13) are both important. Fake news is not new; it has been there for thousands, tens of thousands of years ( so-called “witches” are being burned or the history of medicine as examples). Just that with digital platforms, it is easier and cheaper to spread fake news than ever before. 
  • Recommendation 17 about broader reform to Australian privacy law seems like an absolute must.

I also like the reference to other significant reports published by other overseas governments in the world. Readers can do further reading if they want to based on these references. One report that is also worth a read is “Regulating in a digital world” by House of Lords, Select committee on Communications.

There remains a lot to do be done in this area of “data privacy and innovation“, “what that means in the fourth industrial rvolution era” and the bargaining power between consumers / the industries and governments.

Hope you enjoy the report as much as I do,

Chandler

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