Report says regulate tech giants but Australian govt leading deregulation push at WTO

July 29, 2019: After an 18-month inquiry, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which is independent of government, has produced a Report on Digital Platforms with 23 recommendations for regulation to protect consumer privacy, prevent extremist and misleading digital content, address the market dominance of Facebook and Google and support public interest journalism.

The report comes just days after Facebook had to pay a record $7.1 billion fine to settle a US government case against its privacy practices.

The Australian government has said that Facebook and Google need to be more accountable and there is a need for reform, but there will be a 12-week consultation period before the government announces its final response. The tech giants have criticised the Report.

But Australia, Japan and Singapore are leading secret talks in the World Trade Organisation, supported by Google and Facebook, for a legally binding agreement between mostly industrialised WTO member countries that would deregulate cross-border data flows and restrict national regulation of the tech giants. Australia is also supporting similar proposals in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between 16 Asia-Pacific countries. The deregulatory framework of these talks appears to conflict with the recommendations of the ACCC report, and has been criticised by community organisations and unions.