Government could delay response to ACCC report amid tech industry lobbying

December 3, 2019: A new article in the Australian suggests that the government may delay its response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) digital platforms inquiry report amid strong lobbying from the tech industry.

After the release of the digital platform inquiry report in July, AFTINET raised concerns about the compatibility of the ACCC recommendations with e-commerce provisions in several Australian trade agreements as well as with discussions that Australia is leading at the WTO on the development of a plurilateral agreement on digital trade. Globally, civil society organisations argue that e-commerce rules in trade agreements could undermine privacy rights and consumer protections and restrict governments from regulating the digital economy in the public interest.

There is evidence to show that the WTO discussions are highly influenced by the tech industry lobby. What we are now seeing is that tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter are also trying to influence domestic processes. The Australian reports that lobbyists from tech companies and their industry body Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI) met with Senior MPs last week, arguing that the ACCC recommendations were too harsh. DIGI also established a “Parliamentary Friends of the Digitally Enabled Economy” group that was co-founded by Liberal MP Dave Sharma and Labor’s Anne Aly.

Opposition technology spokeswoman Clare O’Neil expressed concern about tech industry influence, stating “we know the big tech companies are very concerned about it because they are very worried the Australian legislation will set a global precedent for the obligations owed by tech companies and I’m worried they are exerting undue influence.”