Digital Platform Regulation Could Bring Relief for Small Business

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By Published On: December 12, 20231 Comment

The government has agreed to the ACCC’s proposed new regulation of digital platforms which will benefit consumers and small businesses nationwide. 

The Australian Government has made an in-principle agreement to new competition and consumer laws recommended by the ACCC to address harms caused by digital platforms.

Back in September 2022, the ACCC recommended new laws that require digital platforms do the following:

Address Scammers

The ACCC recommended digital platforms provide user-friendly processes for reporting scams, harmful apps, and fake reviews, and to respond to such reports. As well as reduce the risk of scams by verifying certain business users such as advertisers, app developers and merchants. 

Report Information

Another suggestion to prevent scams and reduce harm would be for these platforms to publish review verification processes to provide important information to readers of online reviews to help them assess the reliability of reviews on the platform.

The ACCC also asks digital platforms report on scams, harmful apps and fake reviews on their services, and the measures taken to address them.

Last month, the Government committed to introduce mandatory industry codes for industries including digital communications platforms to address scams, harmful apps, and fake reviews.

Accessible Dispute Resolution

Digital platforms are called on to ensure consumers and small businesses can access appropriate dispute resolution, supported by the establishment of a new digital platform ombuds scheme.

The government has agreed that this will include requesting that digital platforms develop voluntary internal dispute resolution standards by July 2024 and it is currently doing further work to develop internal and external dispute resolution requirements for platforms.

The recommendations, were presented in the Digital Platform Services Inquiry report, which also addressed anti-competitive conduct such as self-preferencing, where platforms favour their own services in search results and app stores, and tying, for example with developers being forced to use app stores’ in-app payment systems that charge commissions of up to 30 percent.

“Companies like Google, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Amazon supply services that most Australians use every day. These digital platforms are often unavoidable ‘gatekeepers’ between Australian businesses and consumers, giving them huge influence across the whole economy,” ACCC Acting Chair Catriona Lowe said.

The ACCC stated that ​​it is critical that the Australian Government works quickly to implement these reforms so that consumers and small businesses aren’t left behind.

“The proposed reforms will ensure fairer and more transparent treatment of small and medium-sized businesses, allowing Australians to fully realise the benefits of participating in the digital economy. By promoting competition in these markets, the reforms will also provide consumers more choice, higher quality services, and fairer terms and conditions.”

About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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One Comment

  1. Ray Pastoors December 13, 2023 at 4:27 PM - Reply

    This is welcome news, given Meta has seen a rapid increase in hacked accounts and ad accounts. The support has been abysmal and seems to be getting worse. Not even Meta Verified is helpful with support teams, usually at capacity. Small Business Ombudsman appears to be the only way to get them to respond/do things.

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