New forum set up for Australia’s digital platform regulators

By Melissa Coade

March 18, 2022

digital economy
The Digital Platform Regulators Forum has been created. (nateejindakum/Adobe)

Four national regulators have joined to establish the Digital Platform Regulators Forum (DP-REG) to support a more unified approach to regulation.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), and the Office of the eSafety Commissioner have teamed up to work on intersecting areas of interest.

The aim of the regulator agency network is to encourage a streamlined and cohesive approach to digital platform regulation in Australia. Through the forum, public servants from ACMA, the ACCC, the OAIC and the eSafety Commissioner will share information and collaborate on how competition, consumer protection, privacy, online safety and data issues intersect.

In a statement, the OAIC’s Angelene Falk said the forum wanted to build ‘a ring of regulatory defence’ where online issues overlapped.

“This is a targeted and flexible regulatory response to address the opportunities and risks posed by the pace and expansion of the digital economy,” Falk said.

“By sharing information and collaborating, we can better deliver regulatory activity that is smart, promoting innovation as well as preventing harms. The use of data, including personal and sensitive information, can be of great benefit to the economy and community but the right protections need to be in place.”

The government is using a range of regulatory interventions to help protect Australians online as a response to the 2019 Digital Platforms Inquiry Final Report produced by the ACCC and legislative reforms to build an online safety regime. This new regulators’ forum will work across such initiatives to ‘encourage innovation while balancing protections’.

The forum will also consider how to best deal with the significant market power of large, complex and diverse multinational entities like Meta and Alphabet Inc.

“Consistent with the government’s deregulation agenda priority area of streamlining overlapping regulation and reducing duplication, the DP-Reg seeks to increase cooperation and information sharing between digital platform regulators on broad areas of intersection, including new and novel regulatory approaches,” the group’s terms of reference read. 

According to Falk, who is the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, the principles-based nature of the Privacy Act provided a level of flexibility for the regulators to adapt and complement other legislation or regulatory frameworks that deal with related issues.

“Adopting a collaborative and complementary regulatory approach, alongside strengthening Australia’s privacy regime through the review of the Privacy Act, will achieve results that protect and empower consumers and protect personal information wherever it flows,” Falk said.

The regulators plan to work together with the Global Privacy Assembly on privacy and consumer protection, online safety and communications law matters.

“[This collaboration] will increase as we work in concert to achieve the best outcomes in the public interest,” Falk added.


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