ACCC platforms report completed

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James Riley

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) handed the long-awaited final report from its Digital Platforms Inquiry to the federal government over the weekend, but it is unclear of when the report will be publicly available.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told that “the Government has received the Digital Platforms Inquiry final report from the ACCC and will release and respond to the report in due course.”

The handover of the final report comes more than a year-and-a-half after the consumer watchdog had been directed by then-Treasurer Scott Morrison to conduct an inquiry into the impact digital platforms such as Google and Facebook have on competition in media and advertising.

Josh Frydenberg: Still considering the final ACCC report from the Digital Platforms Inquiry

The ACCC released its preliminary report last December that contained 11 preliminary recommendations and eight areas for analysis.

These recommendations included that Google and Facebook’s market power needed to be addressed, including the proposal to prevent Google’s internet browser, Chrome, being installed as a default browser on devices, as well as handing a new or established regulatory authority the task to investigate, monitor and report on how digital platforms rank and display their advertisements and news comments.

Additional preliminary recommendations dealt with copyright, and take-down orders, and the review of existing, disparate media regulations.

While digital platforms await for the outcome of the inquiry, the Australian Taskforce to Combat Terrorist and Extreme Violent Material Online has published a 13-page report, providing recommendations on how to prevent violent and terror-related content from being published on social media platforms.

The taskforce, which was formed following a Summit at the end of March, was convened by the Prime Minister, with members from Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Telstra, Vodafone, TPG and Optus. It was set up in response to the Christchurch terrorist attacks.

The report outlines nine areas of agreement, including prevention; detection and removal; transparency; deterrence; and capacity building.

Some of the specific recommendations included to continue to develop and report to the Australian government on technical measures to proactively stop terrorist and extreme violent material from being disseminated on their platforms, as well as implement visible and intuitive user reporting mechanisms and introduce accelerated review for live-streamed content flagged as terrorist or extreme violent material.

The report also recommended running a ‘testing event’ in the next year managed by the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee to simulate a scenario to gauge the capability of the industry and government to respond to such content.

Improving transparency of the platforms’ ongoing efforts to combat terrorist and extreme violent material on their platforms through regular public reporting at least twice yearly is also another recommendation that was made in the report.

Australian internet service providers have also committed to continue to work with government on effective content blocking arrangements on terrorist content.

While Google is not part of the Taskforce, it has outlined that it is also committed to working with governments on removing terrorist content on its platform.

“We have zero tolerance for terrorist content on our platforms,” the technology giant said.

“Over the last few years we have invested heavily in human review teams and smart technology that helps us quickly detect, review, and remove this type of content.

“We are committed to leading the way in developing new technologies and standards for identifying and removing terrorist content. We are working with government agencies, law enforcement and across industry, including as a founding member of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, to keep this type of content off our platforms.”

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