ADMA Member Bulletin: Government response to Digital Platforms Inquiry

16 Dec 2019

In December 2017, the Government asked the competition and consumer regulator, the ACCC, to investigate the impact of online search engines, social media and digital content aggregators (digital platforms) on competition in the media and advertising services markets. The Inquiry also examined the adequacy of Australia’s privacy laws in light of developments in digital technologies. ADMA made two submissions to the Inquiry and participated in a privacy roundtable with the ACCC and other key stakeholders in March 2019.

Today the Government issued its response to the DPI. For ADMA members, the key issues and implications are the following:

1) Review of the Privacy Act

the Government will consider amending the definition of ‘personal information’ in the Privacy Act to capture technical data and other online identifiers; strengthening existing notice and consent requirements to ensure entities meet best practice standards; and introducing a direct right of action for individuals to bring actions in court to seek compensation for an interference with their privacy under the Privacy Act.

What this means for marketers: a broader definition of personal information and tougher consent requirement and penalties for breach will all increase complexity and risk for marketers and advertisers who use data to better understand and serve their customers.

How ADMA will respond: Just as when the original Privacy laws were introduced, ADMA will be a key stakeholder in the review of the Privacy Act and a strong advocate in defense of its members’ interests. ADMA is encouraged by the Government’s intention to examine “how to ensure our privacy regime operates effectively for all elements of the community and allows for innovation and growth of the digital economy” and will be a dominant voice explaining how this impacts data-driven business.

2) Inquiry into competition in adtech

The Government will set up a Digital Platforms Branch within the ACCC to monitor and report on digital platforms, take enforcement action as necessary, and conduct  an inquiry into competition for the supply of ad tech services and the supply of online advertising by advertising and media agencies.

What this means for marketers: the introduction of a new regulator, funded at up to $27 million over four years, will mean a prolonged and intensive period of regulatory scrutiny of the adtech sector with the potential for serious fines and penalties if evidence of breach of the competition law is found.

How ADMA will respond: in its submission to the Inquiry, ADMA questioned the need for yet another branch of the bureaucracy to oversee adtech, however ADMA committed to work closely with the new agency in the interest of promoting transparency and fairness across the adtech sector. ADMA represents all players in the data-driven business ecosystem and therefore is well positioned to contribute valuable industry perspective to this issue. As such, ADMA will be seeking input, both in terms of business impact and future state requirements for industry.

3) Privacy code for digital platforms

A binding privacy code will be developed by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), requiring digital platforms to be more transparent about data sharing; meet best practice consent requirements when collecting, using and disclosing personal information; stop using or disclosing personal information upon request; and include specific rules to protect personal information of children and vulnerable groups.

What this means for marketers: the introduction of a mandatory privacy code for digital platforms will increase complexity and compliance risk for marketers and advertisers using these platforms to better understand and serve their customers.

How ADMA will respond: in its submission to the Inquiry, ADMA offered qualified support for the development of such a code, noting that its development needs to be undertaken carefully and that all stakeholders need to be given ample time to participate fully in the process. ADMA has always advocated best practice in terms of transparency, data collection and data sharing. In addition to providing an industry voice to the development of the code, ADMA will continue to ensure our members have the knowledge and understanding of these issues and how they impact their business.

Marketers can already build their understanding with the currently available IQ course Privacy and Marketing Compliance and the Data Pass program.

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