Facebook, Google inquiry ‘a priority’ for ACCC

Facebook, Google inquiry ‘a priority’ for ACCCACCC chairman Rod Sims

Facebook and Google’s role in the Australian media ecosystem will come under strong scrutiny, as Australian Consumer and Competition Commission chairman Rod Sims names the inquiry into the platforms a priority in 2018.

Mr Sims said that the upcoming inquiry, which will examine the impact that social media and search engines have on competition with media and advertising services, will be “fundamentally important”.

“Concerns about the influence of digital platforms have become prominent in recent years, on very many fronts, and this inquiry is likely the first of its kind to explore broadly the competition and competition implications,” Mr Sims said in his annual address at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s conference.

The comments follow the handing down of a report from the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Future of Public Interest Journalism, which failed to make recommendations on the digital giants, instead leaving the investigation to the ACCC.

Mr Sims also questioned the amount of data the Facebook and Google have on users, and the potential implications of its use and sale in the marketplace.

“My suspicion is Facebook and Google have much more personal information about people than people realise.

“Whether that is right, we’ll need to test. Whether people are concerned about that, we’ll need to test,” Mr Sims said in an interview with news.com.au.

The inquiry was ordered by the federal government to honour the deal struck with then Senator Nick Xenophon last year in order to pass the media reform laws.

A formal consultation will begin next Monday with the release of an Issues Paper. A preliminary report is due December 3, with a final report to be submitted by June 2, 2019.