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Submission to the ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry consultation 

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With digital connections playing a significant part in our everyday lives, we need a regulatory system that ensures a safe and healthy online environment for everyone. 

With this vision, FARE made a submission to the ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry September 2022 Interim Report consultation, calling for strong checks and balances to ensure our families and communities are kept safe from harmful digital marketing practices by alcohol companies. 

The ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry, which runs from 2020 to 2025, aims to examine competition and consumer issues associated with digital platforms. In the September 2022 Interim Report, the Inquiry will consider the need for a new regulatory framework to address these issues identified to date. 

In this consultation, participants were asked for their insights on competition and consumer harms arising from digital platform services, the effectiveness of current competition and consumer protection law enforcement in Australia, and potential regulatory tools to implement reforms.  

In our submission, we drew attention to the need for greater consideration of the harms from digital marketing strategies. We noted that this continues to be a regulatory gap between online safety, privacy, competition, and consumer protection regulations. 

Here are some of the key recommendations that we have made: 

  • The ACCC must further investigate and consider policy solutions to address consumer harm from digital platform marketing systems in the Digital Platform Services Inquiry. 
  • Regulatory reform must ensure that preventing harm from digital platform business activities is a primary consideration. Standards should be set that require digital platforms to not act in ways that put people using platforms at risk of harm, including their health and wellbeing. 
  • A regulatory framework is developed to effectively govern digital platform marketing systems with a legislative basis, surveillance and enforcement systems that deter non-compliance, and appropriate resourcing to ensure effective implementation. 
  • Implement comprehensive, mandatory regulation to protect people from harmful digital marketing practices, including protections for children and others most at risk of harm from digital marketing of harmful and addictive products like alcohol, gambling, tobacco (and e-cigarettes) and unhealthy foods. 
  • Mandatory measures must be implemented requiring digital platforms to make advertising information accessible, including their data practices and automated decision systems. 

You can read FARE’s submission here. 

FARE supports policy reforms that contribute to a reduction in alcohol-related harms in Australia. Our policy work is informed by the evidence of what is most effective in reducing alcohol-related harms. We support the progression of population-based health measures, which take into consideration the far reaching and complex impacts of alcohol-related harms.

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