Key takeaways for businesses from the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry

On the 26 July 2019 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released the final report into the Digital Platforms Inquiry.  Prompted by the rise of advertising on digital platforms such as Google and Facebook and its impact on consumers, the 600+ page report includes a total of 23 recommendations and applies a broad-brush approach to cover competition law, privacy law, media regulation and consumer protection. The recommendations made by the ACCC in relation to privacy laws will extend beyond digital platforms and could have far reaching implications for how businesses will be required to handle personal information. Broadly speaking, the Final Report attempts to give consumers more control over personal information, increase accountability, and improve privacy laws in Australia.

Recommendations included:

  • to strengthen provisions in the Australian Privacy Act 1988, including a recommendation to update the definition of ‘personal information’ to include IP addresses, device identifiers and location data. Further, the ACCC has recommended a broader reform of the Australian privacy law framework and the introduction of an OAIC privacy code of practice specifically for digital platforms the introduction of a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy; 
  • changes to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) including amending unfair contract terms legislation such that unfair contract terms are prohibited. Additionally, the ACCC has recommended introducing a prohibition against ‘unfair trading practices’ such as changing terms on which goods or services are provided without reasonable notice; and
  • that a branch be created within the ACCC to be tasked with monitoring, investigating and reporting on whether digital platforms are engaging in discriminatory conduct by favouring their own business interests. Similarly, ACCC has recommended the establishment of an independent ombudsman scheme to resolve any disputes between digital platforms and consumers or businesses.

What does this mean for businesses?

Needless to say, the ACCC’s recommendations intend to significantly alter the Australian Privacy and Consumer Law landscape. Businesses will need to review their commercial practices to implement more detailed, comprehensive privacy compliance protocols under threat of hefty penalties. Even businesses that rely on digital platforms for advertising may be impacted by these recommendations.

Gladwin Legal are experts in privacy law and can assist in ensuring you are complying with privacy regulations.  If you would like to know how we can help, please do not hesitate to contact us at rosalyn@gladwinlegal.com.au or give us a call on 1300 033 934 for a no-obligation quote.