On Friday (26 July), the ACCC published its final report on its inquiry into digital platforms with a particular focus on the impact of the platforms on media and advertising.
Australia is one of several countries that has produced influential reports on digital platforms, with the UK, EU and US also having published similar reports in recent months. There is no doubt that investigating digital platforms will be a key priority for many competition and regulatory authorities around the world over the coming years.
The ACCC report includes 23 far reaching recommendations, although it does not go as far as recommending the break-up of digital platforms. The report includes a recommendation to set-up a dedicated tech regulator, which would provide ongoing monitoring of whether digital platforms are engaging in any anti-competitive conduct and would have the power to enforce any necessary remedial actions.
The report places a high emphasis on how data is being used by digital platforms and whether this represents a barrier to effective competition. Interestingly and unlike reports on digital platforms in other countries, the ACCC has decided against imposing increased data portability obligations at this point in time. The ACCC does however recommend that the merger law should be modified to include a greater focus on the role of data and whether a potential competitor is being removed from the market.
The ACCC was also concerned that consumers often opt for the default option, which may benefit Google, as Google Search is the default search engine on the majority of internet browsers. As a result, the report recommends that users of Android devices should be able to choose their default search engine and browser, which mimics a remedy that Google is already rolling-out in Europe.
Frontier has extensive experience advising on issues involving digital platforms, deciding on the optimal balance between ex-ante regulation and ex-post competition policy, designing remedies and developing the most appropriate institutional framework for regulators
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