Government Unmoved By Senate Committee Into Big Tech Regulation

Government Unmoved By Senate Committee Into Big Tech Regulation

The Albanese government appears unlikely to accept the findings of the Senate’s Economics References Committee looking into the influence of international digital platforms.

Lead image: Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, chair of the Senate Economic References Committee.

The committee handed down its recommendations on Friday and recommended establishing a single body to coordinate data collection, algorithmic transparency, a new “right to delete” data for users and improving pathways to resolve disputes.

But the committee’s work seems to have been carried out in vain with government senators believing that the report does not differ significantly to the ACCC’s digital platforms inquiries which form the basis of current policy.

Government senators provided additional commentary on the report saying that Albo and his team were already taking a look at the sector.

“Government senators are of the view that a whole of government response to the regulation of digital platforms is the most efficient way to address digital platforms power, influence and wide impact on the economy and consumers.

“Importantly, this whole of government response is already underway. Significant reforms are being progressed by the government through the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Digital Platform inquiries and the Attorney-Generals’ Review of the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act). Other initiatives from across government portfolios complement these reforms.

“Regulation of digital platforms is a policy matter being addressed globally, and it is important reforms pursued domestically—where appropriate — align with developments internationally. Government senators are of the view that lessons from overseas should be considered and applied to reforms in Australia as part of the whole of government approach”.

However, the report did say that existing bodies, including the ACCC and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), should be upskilled and given extra resources to manage the digital platforms.

The Consumer Policy Research Centre said in its submission that, “Experts such as data scientists, artificial intelligence engineers, information security analysts and other technical professionals need to be in the mix to support upstream regulation and mitigate the risk to consumers, potentially before widespread harm has occurred”.

However, even the committee noted that this upskilling would not fill the regulatory gaps.

Despite Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, the committee’s chair, saying that “with all Australians interacting with at least one big tech platform daily, it is important that regulations reflect this market concentration and influence. They live under our roof, they must play by our rules”, the report was something of a damp squib.

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