Facebook responds to ACCC report

Facebook responds to ACCC as Australian media companies welcome the recommendations


Facebook has responded to the recommendations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) following its final Digital Platforms Inquiry report.

The ACCC called for holistic and dynamic reforms to counter the adverse effect digital giants are having on the economy, media landscape, competition and society.  

The ACCC made 23 recommendations spanning competition law, consumer protection, media regulation and privacy law, with the view being digital platforms are adversely impacting everything from media competition, monetisation and journalism quality, to consumer data, privacy and digital industry competition. 

The ACCC said action on consumer law and privacy issues, as well as on competition law and policy, will be vital in dealing with the problems associated with digital platforms’ market power and the accumulation of consumers’ data. 

Managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, Will Easton, said over the past 18 months, Facebook has worked with the ACCC as they've reviewed the future of sustainable journalism and digital advertising in Australia.  

“It is important to get the rules for digital news distribution right, as they could impact the 16 million Australians who use our services to connect, share and build community, as well as the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that use our free tools to grow, thrive and create jobs,” he said. 

“We are fully committed to engaging in the consultation process around this report, while continuing to deliver the benefits of technology to the millions of Australians who use our services.” 

One ACCC recommendation is harmonising the regulatory imbalance between digital platforms and traditional news media platforms, and the requirement for digital platforms to provide the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with codes which can help redress the current imbalance between digital platforms and news media businesses to improve monetisation of content. 

CEO of NewsMediaWorks, Peter Miller, joined the chorous of approval from both Nine and Network 10 following the ACCC report.

“We believe in the power and importance of premium, professionally generated news content,” he said.

“Therefore, we welcome all initiatives that create a more level playing field, allowing our members to better monetise their content and ensure that all Australians continue to have access to high-quality news and journalism.” 

On the privacy front, the report advocates strengthening protections within Australia’s Privacy Act, a broader reform of Australia’s privacy law framework, introduction of a privacy code of practices specifically for digital platforms and overseen by the office of the Australian Information Commissioner, and a statutory tort for serious invasions of privacy. 

CTO and co-founder of Shootsta, Tim Moylan, said the recommendations are unlikely to help competition, because Google and Facebook have such a large market share. 

“This (the report) is a worthwhile idea for the sake of better-educating consumers on exactly how their data is used and what is collected,” he told CMO

 “We’re at a point where Facebook and Google can anticipate your needs and market them to you, sometimes without you needing to give them any information first. “It’s led to this notion that Google and Facebook spy on the consumer through their phone’s microphone — it’s in fact this prediction algorithm at play. 

“Shootsta advertises on both Facebook and Google. From our standpoint, we want it to be transparent as to why our customers are being targeted with our ads at any point in time. No brand ever wants to cross that line of being creepy and a little too predictive with their ads. 

“But will it help competition? Unlikely. Regardless of the enquires findings, these two companies have such a huge market share that it’s difficult to imagine how any regulation or truth-seeking will change the status quo.”

Senior manager of solutions architecture at ForgeRock, Adam Biviano, said recent advancements in technology have dramatically changed our lives. 

“With technology woven into the fabric of nearly everything we do, the amount of data we create or is created about us by the devices we carry and the services we interact with has grown exponentially,” he said.

"The potential uses of this digital wake are almost limitless and can result in significant improvements to our quality of life. Equally, if left unchecked this data can potentially be used by opportunistic companies and in a way which produces less desirable outcomes for the individual. 

"We have reached a crossroad where the decisions we make today regarding regulatory frameworks can construct a future where power is handed back to the individual. There is a need to put the individual back in the driver's seat and to determine how technology can positively impact their lives. 

"Governments must take an active role in the oversight of how data can be used and the controls available to the individual. Just as they do for the likes of road rules, governments need to be constantly evolving data accountability regulations and enforcement strategies."

AMSRO president, Craig Young, said the ACCC’s recommendations to beef up consumer privacy protections by increasing consent and notification requirements of digital platforms, including Google and Facebook, is very welcome, and closely mirrors the way that legitimate market research companies in Australia currently deal with
consumer data. 

“Personal information for market and social research conducted by AMSRO member organisations is
collected only with specific and informed consent and under strict codes and practices, and it’s high
time that other organisations collecting, storing and sharing personal information and data comply
with a similar regime.

"If we are to expect ongoing co-operation from the public, whose opinions are the lifeblood of our industry and others, we all need to be transparent, responsible and held to account.

“AMSRO and its members will fully examine the ACCC’s final report over the coming week and be
available to consult with the government should the need arise.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.  





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