Facebook criticises ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry final report recommendations

Social media giant criticises several of the final report's recommendations, although it supports most of the regulator's suggestions

Facebook has responded to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry final report with both criticism and support, backing 20 of the 29 findings but arguing more must be done to identify the best policy frameworks for the Internet. 

The 140-page response follows the release of the ACCC's final Digital Platforms Inquiry report released at the end of July. First begun in December 2017, the inquiry considered the impact of online search engines, social media and digital content aggregators, together defined as digital platforms, on competition in the media and advertising services markets in Australia.

In a series of scathing and wide-spread findings, the consumer watchdog concluded the dominance of the large digital platforms and their impact on the economy, the media and society broadly must be addressed with significant, holistic reforms.

In its response dated 12 September, Facebook agreed a new code for digital news platforms should be in place to protect news standards and highlighted the ACCC's found no evidence of anti-competitive behaviour by Facebook. The social marketing giant agreed more should be done to support privacy and consumer protection in Australia.

However, Facebook argued the proposed privacy reforms are a substandard version of Europe’s best-in-class privacy laws, which could harm consumer welfare, small businesses and the economy. Instead the tech giant wants new economy-wide privacy laws adopted in Australia, appropriate for the digital age.

Facebook also said in a company post that the final report's regulatory solution recommendations incorrectly conflate Google and Facebook and stressed both are two very different companies that compete with each other and publishers for advertising dollars. Bundling the two together would not address the important policy considerations for the role of data and technology in Australia’s economy, the company said.

“Our aim is to achieve clear rules that deliver economy-wide privacy protection, data portability and a user focused digital news distribution model, while preserving the many benefits that technology delivers to Australians,” Facebook’s director of policy Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick said in a company post.

The ACCC's report also received criticism last week from digital platforms industry lobby group, Digital Industry Group (DIGI), which questioned measures to check the veracity of news on some sites and recommendations to change merger laws.

However, the ACCC is being cheered on from other quarters. A group of competition watchdogs from around the world at a meeting in New York recently have reportedly applauded the ACCC’s inquiry into the dominance of platforms such as Google and Facebook and their dominance in online advertising and the collection of personal data.

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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