Very important report from ACCC on digital platform services.
Recommendation 1: Economy-wide consumer measures
The ACCC continues to recommend the introduction of new and expanded economy-wide consumer measures, including an economy-wide prohibition against unfair trading practices and strengthening of the unfair contract terms laws.
These reforms, alongside targeted digital platform specific obligations, would assist in addressing some of the consumer protection concerns identified for digital platform services.
Recommendation 2: Digital platform specific consumer measures
The ACCC recommends additional targeted measures to protect users of digital platforms, which should apply to all relevant digital platform services, including:
• Mandatory processes to prevent and remove scams, harmful apps and fake reviews including:
o a notice-and-action mechanism
o verification of certain business users
o additional verification of advertisers of financial services and products
o improved review verification disclosures
o public reporting on mitigation efforts.
• Mandatory internal dispute resolution standards that ensure accessibility, timeliness, accountability, the ability to escalate to a human representative and transparency.
• Ensuring consumers and small business have access to an independent external ombuds scheme.
Recommendation 3: Additional competition measures for digital platforms
The ACCC recommends the introduction of additional competition measures to protect and promote competition in markets for digital platform services. These should be implemented through a new power to make mandatory codes of conduct for ‘designated’ digital platforms based on principles set out in legislation.
Each code would be for a single type of digital platform service (i.e. service-specific codes) and contain targeted obligations based on the legislated principles. This would allow flexibility to tailor the obligations to the specific competition issues relevant to that service as these change over time.
These codes would only apply to ‘designated’ digital platforms that meet clear criteria relevant to their incentive and ability to harm competition.
Recommendation 4: Targeted competition obligations
The framework for mandatory service-specific codes for Designated Digital Platforms (proposed under Recommendation 3) should support targeted obligations based on legislated principles to address, as required:
• anti-competitive self-preferencing
• anti-competitive tying
• exclusive pre-installation and default agreements that hinder competition
• impediments to consumer switching
• impediments to interoperability
• data-related barriers to entry and expansion, where privacy impacts can be managed
• a lack of transparency
• unfair dealings with business users
• exclusivity and price parity clauses in contracts with business users.
The codes should be drafted so that compliance with their obligations can be assessed clearly and objectively. Obligations should be developed in consultation with industry and other stakeholders and targeted at the specific competition issues relevant to the type of service to which the code will apply. The drafting of obligations should consider any justifiable reasons for the conduct (such as necessary and proportionate privacy or security justifications).