Digital transparency, the examination of algorithms and their impact, and increased collaboration between agencies have been identified as 2022-23 priorities for the Digital Platform Regulators Forum, a collective of Australia’s online, privacy, media, and competition and consumer regulators .
The Forum members, which are the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA), eSafety Commissioner (eSafety), and Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), met on Tuesday to discuss priorities for the next financial year.
Given the power and information asymmetries between digital platforms and users, digital transparency is of particular concern. The regulators will look to improve the transparency of harm prevention measures taken by digital platforms. This ranges from how consumer data is handled to the impact of activities undertaken to address misinformation.
Algorithmic recommendations and profiling impacts will be looked at by forum members, as well as moderation algorithms, promotion of disinformation, harmful content, and product ranking and displays on digital platforms. Throughout the next financial year, the forum plans to conduct further research, engage with industry, meet with expert stakeholders, and conduct workshops.
Collaboration will take the form of joint engagement with stakeholders, submissions and advice to Government, and training and other capability building programs. There was also discussion of work already undertaken, such as the development of the voluntary misinformation code for tech platforms.
The Digital Platform Regulators Forum was formed in March this year. It is expected to meet roughly every two months and be chaired on a rotating basis. The regulators will also use the alliance to share staff via secondment and to collaborate on proposals and enforcement.
ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said that the Digital Platform Regulators Forum is important to the ACCC as it continues ongoing inquiries into digital platforms.
These follow the digital platforms inquiry report released in July 2019 that looked into the effects digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content aggregation platforms have on competition in media and advertising services markets.
eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant also voiced her support for the forum. Her role was given additional content takedown powers earlier this year to try and improve online safety.
“I’m looking forward to continuing our work together improving the experience of all Australians online, ensuring we remain at the vanguard of fair, balanced and innovative end-to-end digital regulation. With increased interdependence on technology and online services, Australians deserve no less,” Ms Inman Grant said.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin and Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk similarly stressed the importance of the collaborative forum. ACMA is in charge of overseeing the News Media Bargaining Code.
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