The Federal Government is Asking Big Digital Platforms to Police Themselves

The Federal Government is Asking Big Digital Platforms to Police Themselves

The Federal Government’s response to the ACCC’s Digital Platform Services Inquiry agrees that there’s a need for regulation – but it’s looking to let the big platforms manage the way disputes get resolved first.

The ACCC handed down its Digital Platform Services Inquiry seventh report recently, calling on the government to recognise the need for significant regulatory reform in the space, especially as it relates to the power of big incumbent players such as Google, Meta, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.

Today, the Federal Government has published its response to that report, recognising that there is an absolute need for stronger measures “to protect consumers and businesses from harms on digital platforms.”

The report noted the ACCC highlighting the issues that many Australians have when dealing with digital marketplaces and getting quick and easy resolution to complaints. In response, the government states that it will “consider options to improve the dispute resolution processes available to users of digital platforms.”

The response quotes Stephen Jones MP, the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services as stating that:

“We want Australians to have confidence that they can use digital platforms safely, and that they’ll be heard by the platform if something goes wrong. The steps we are taking here build on the work that the Albanese Government has already done to put Australian consumers and small businesses first after a decade of neglect.”

Which is all within the scope of how these matters often have both a pratical and political spin as quotes go.

Most of the other recommendations in the report are supported “in principle”, but naturally it’s in the detail and how they’ll actually be implemented that we’ll hopefully see regulation that makes it simpler for Australians to use digital platforms and work with them when issues occur.

So what did the government actually say in response to the ACCC’s recommendations?

On dealing with fake reviews

The ACCC wants a mandatory notice-and-action mechanism in place to remove fake reviews, along with verification processes for certain business users and mandatory dispute resolution processes to be put in place.

“Online reviews are a valuable source of information for consumers and it is important that such information is genuine and reliable. Fake reviews can mislead consumers and result in significant harms for Australian businesses. The Government will consider appropriate and balanced solutions that take account of potential compliance burden and practical implications for both the digital platforms and those that rely on online reviews. This will include considering whether disputes over fake reviews could be effectively managed through proposed dispute resolution processes as well as potentially utilising misinformation and disinformation and scams regulation.”

Source: Government Response to ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry

On whether there’s a need for a digital platform ombuds

While the ACCC would like to see consumers and small businesses get access to an external ombuds, the Federal Government is more thinking around a self-regulatory system instead, noting that

“The Government accepts the ACCC’s findings that digital platforms do not have adequate processes for consumers to raise issues and concerns experienced online. A lack of effective dispute resolution processes can reduce trust and confidence in digital platform services and prevent Australians from taking full advantage of the benefits provided by digital platforms. The Government will undertake further work to develop internal and external dispute resolution requirements by calling on industry to develop voluntary internal dispute resolution standards by July 2024.”

Source: Government Response to ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry

The Digital Platform Services Inquiry will continue to report recommendations, with its final report set to be completed and passed to the Treasurer by March 31, 2025.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.