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Albanese Government must urgently combat anti-competitive and harmful conduct on digital platforms

Joint media release

Hon Angus Taylor MP, Shadow Treasurer
Senator the Hon Sarah Henderson, Shadow Minister for Communications

The Albanese Government must urgently act on the ACCC’s Regulatory Reform report (Interim Report No 5) of its Digital Platform Services Inquiry, initiated by the former Coalition Government, which recommends tough new laws to combat scams and other harmful anti-competitive conduct on digital platforms.

Just yesterday in Senate Estimates, ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said that urgent action to combat scams was critical. (See Senator Henderson’s media release.)

In response to wide ranging and systemic harms on certain digital platforms, the ACCC has recommended mandatory codes of conduct for certain platforms and services.  It has also recommended an economy-wide unfair trading practices prohibition.

According to the ACCC, the mandatory codes would:

  • provide user-friendly processes for reporting scams, harmful apps, and fake reviews, and to respond to such reports;
  • reduce the risk of scams by verifying certain business users such as advertisers, app developers and merchants;
  • publish review verification processes to provide important information to readers of online reviews to help them assess the reliability of reviews on the platform;
  • report on scams, harmful apps and fake reviews on their services, and the measures taken to address them; and
  • ensure consumers and small businesses can access appropriate dispute resolution, supported by the establishment of a new digital platform ombuds scheme.

The ACCC is also recommending service-specific codes of conduct to apply to designated digital platforms to address a range of anti-competitive conduct including:

  • ‘bundling and tying’ where consumers and businesses are forced to use a platform’s own services;
  • ‘self-preferencing’ where favourable treatment is given to a platform’s products and services;
  • unfair contract terms imposed by platforms;
  • restrictions on interoperability requiring platforms to make their products and services interoperable with those offered by competitors; and
  • the mis-use of data by platforms.

While the Opposition will need to assess any legislation which stems from these recommendations, we urge the government to get on with the critical job of reining in the anti-competitive and harmful conduct of global tech giants such as Meta, Apple and Google.

Whether it is the Online Safety Act, the eSafety Commissioner, the News Media Bargaining Code or the Coalition’s proposed laws to strengthen online privacy and combat trolling on social media, the Coalition has a very strong track record of holding the digital platforms to account in the best interests of all Australians.

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