Facebook, Google lobby group criticises ACCC fake news rules

DIGI warned that appropriate intervention on one platform, such as a public social media site, might be intrusive on private messaging or cost-prohibitive for another.


“The ACCC states that ‘it should avoid the government directly determining the trustworthiness, quality and value of news and journalism sources’. But in this recommendation, the ACCC is effectively putting that burden on platforms,” the submission says.

The code would allow members of the public who complain about the way fake news has been handled by the services to complain to a regulator.

“This effectively makes [a regulator] the truth verification body, as its judgements as to whether a digital platform adequately handled the complaints speak to the regulator’s own assessment of truth in relation to the matter in question.”

While DIGI supported broad moves to increase digital literacy and grants for news organisations, the group criticised moves to change merger laws  that would add scrutiny by requiring the ACCC to consider the likelihood of the removal of a competitor from the market if it is acquired by a tech giant.

“Ensuring that startups can successfully exit their venture, through acquisition from large technology companies, is key to ensuring growth and development of Australia’s technology sector,” the submission says.

“Given the downward trajectory of ICT share of [gross value added] for the last 20 years , and the need and 13 immense potential to grow this industry, it is not an opportune time for innovation-stifling red tape to be legislated in the form of this recommendation.”

DIGI managing director Sunita Bose said in a letter provided as part of the submission that there needed to be broader consultation with the digital industry ahead of any major reforms.

“We are concerned that the final recommendations have unintended consequences for a wide range of digital service providers, organisations that rely upon digital services to market goods and services, consumers of online services, and for the Australian economy,” Ms Bose said.

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