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Data reform to give consumers more control

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chair Rod Sims discussed the issues of regulating the data economy and the implementation of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) in a speech in Sydney on Monday.

The ACCC is taking the lead role in the implementation of the CDR, a competition and consumer reform announced by the Australian Government in May 2018. The consumer watchdog will be responsible for rule-making, consumer education and enforcement.

In setting rules, the ACCC will consult with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), the public, and sector-specific regulators.

Sims discussed how consumer data is handled and the ACCC’s lead role in enforcing the Consumer Data Right (CDR) saying it will mean more innovation and better prices for consumers.

“This is an exciting new role for the ACCC which is throwing up many new issues for the ACCC and no doubt many more to come. We are out there talking to banks, consumer groups, fintechs and broader stakeholders,” Sims said.

“The CDR will enable customers to safely share their transaction, usage and product data with trusted service providers, if they choose to do so.”

“It will reduce the costs consumers incur when switching between providers and will lower the barriers to entry for new providers. Accordingly, it will encourage competition between service providers, leading not only to better prices for customers but also more innovation of products and services.”

Sims said that the ACCC is well placed to deal with a range of future data issues.

“The consumer data right, and the digital platforms inquiry, set us up very well indeed for the issues to come,” he said.

Sims also spoke about the difficulty regulators face when dynamic data companies merge.

“One of the key challenges with merger cases in digital markets is predicting the likelihood of future competition between the target and the acquirer,” Sims said.

“In fast moving markets, this is clearly difficult particularly when the target is a start up or currently only active in a neighbouring market.”

“Such transactions can end up leading to a large reduction in competition but, at the time of merger review, the chance of this occurring may well be considered low or difficult to predict.”

Sims also said that while they manifest in new ways, the competition and consumer law issues we see emerging in data are just incarnations of what we have seen in traditional markets.

This story originally appeared on sister-site Inside FMCG.

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