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Regulators team up to tackle Big Tech

06 April 2022

2 min read

#Data & Privacy, #Technology, Media & Telecommunications

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Regulators team up to tackle Big Tech

Four of Australia’s key regulators have joined forces to form the Digital Platform Regulators Forum (DP-REG) in an effort to coordinate the regulation of digital platforms and to share information about their approach to issues that cut across the jurisdictional divide.

The DP-REG consists of the following regulators, each of whom plays a critical role in the regulation of digital platforms:

  • Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). As the privacy regulator, the OAIC has a keen interest in the prolific collection and use of Australians’ personal information online
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which regulates the media and communications sector and played an integral role in developing the voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation, released in late 2021. The ACMA also plays a consumer protection role with respect to electronic spam messages
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The ACCC has undertaken a number of comprehensive inquiries into the conduct of large digital platforms in recent years, commencing with the ground-breaking 2019 Digital Platforms Inquiry. The regulator is currently consulting on new regulatory measures to address the anti-competitive or otherwise harmful conduct of digital platforms it has uncovered in those inquiries
  • Office of the eSafety Commissioner (eSafety Commissioner). The eSafety Commissioner is a relatively new regulator, created under the Online Safety Act 2015. It regulates harmful content published online.

The DP-REG has announced their intention to collaborate on the regulation of digital platforms and to share information about their respective regulatory frameworks to enhance their individual regulatory capabilities.

Each member of the DP-REG has oversight over a different element of the digital sphere and the relevant aspects of its intrusion into the personal sphere of individuals. Many topical concerns regarding the conduct of digital platforms cut across those individual jurisdictions. This collaboration reflects a broader effort to streamline overlapping regulation and reduce duplication.

For example, while the collection, use and disclosure of personal information falls traditionally within the jurisdiction of the OAIC, the ACCC has recently relied on its consumer law jurisdiction to take action against both Google and Facebook regarding misleading and deceptive representations about the collection and use of user data.

The ACMA and the eSafety Commissioner also share oversight of the content that is made available online. The eSafety Commissioner recently assumed the ACMA’s responsibility to regulate inappropriate or harmful content and take action in relation to online abuse and harassment.

The voluntary collaboration by the members of the DP-REG is encouraging and demonstrates an awareness by the regulators of the convergence of many traditionally separate spheres of influence arising from the ubiquitous role of technology. In the current environment, there is considerable overlap between their respective portfolios.

On the other hand, this does suggest the need for more formal guidance or regulation to clarify the process for resolving any jurisdictional overlaps, and facilitating more collaboration to ultimately benefit individuals from better-informed and coordinated regulatory approaches.

The information in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

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