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Digital & Innovation

Government agencies unite to form new digital regulators network

Health Industry Hub | March 14, 2022 |
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Digital & Innovation: Four government agencies have come together to form a new body to promote greater cooperation and information-sharing in the regulation of digital platforms in Australia.

The Digital Platform Regulators Forum (DP-REG) will consist of representatives from the ACMA, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Office of the eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

Each of the agencies work across initiatives relating to digital platforms and face common issues such as emerging online consumer harms and encouraging innovation while balancing protections. 

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, Angelene Falk, said “We are seeking to build a ring of regulatory defence where privacy, competition, consumer protection, online safety, communications and data issues intersect. This is a targeted and flexible regulatory response to address the opportunities and risks posed by the pace and expansion of the digital economy.”

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin welcomed the formation of the group as another step in ensuring Australia is at the forefront in the regulation of the digital environment.

“Digital platforms play an increasingly important role in the lives of Australians for information, entertainment and social contact with family and friends,” said Ms O’Loughlin.

“This forum will assist regulators to work more closely together to ensure these platforms meet the standards expected of them by the Australian community.”

ACCC Chair Rod Sims said digital platforms “have become an essential part of Australian life” but present “a range of challenges in terms of competition and consumer protection.”

“The forum will help to streamline our approach to the regulation of digital platforms in Australia. Since the ACCC began examining digital platform services in 2017, we have observed harms to competition, consumers, and business users in a range of areas dominated by large digital platforms.

“Collaboration with other agencies who also have a role in regulating digital platforms is vital as we consider whether further regulatory reforms are needed to support competition and protect Australian consumers online.”

While the ACCC looks at digital platforms in relation to competition and consumer impacts, the other regulators focus on regulating communication and media services, protecting privacy, and promoting safety online.

The DP-REG members will share information and resources, enhance regulatory capabilities across the group, and collaborate on projects of joint interest.

The DP-REG’s terms of reference states it holds no enforceable rights and no decision-making capabilities, but rather ‘is intended to be flexible and recognise the limits of each member’s respective regulatory frameworks’. The DP-REG will be led by a chair that will rotate every six months, with meetings to ‘occur once every 2 months’.

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