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Australia’s Competition Watchdog Seeks Public Comment On Data Broker Practices

 |  July 16, 2023

Australia’s competition watchdog has called for public comment on the business practices of data brokers as the sector is poised to come under greater scrutiny.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published a report outlining the ‘products and services (data brokers) create and supply’ while also looking into ‘potential competition and consumer issues that may arise in the supply of data broker services’.

The report considers data brokers including Oracle, Equifax, Ireland headquartered Experian and global tech firm LiveRamp among other providers. ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said that in spite of the widespread prevalence of data brokers in Australia: “there is little transparency and awareness of how data brokers operate in Australia despite the vast amounts of information they collect about Australian consumers and the central role they play in enabling the exchange of information between businesses.”

Read more: EU and US Reach Data Privacy Agreement, Ensuring Safe Data Flows

According to the ACCC, data brokers typically gather data from mobile applications, social media sites, and card payment providers and use the information to create products and services to other organizations. This will be explored further in the final report which will explore the potential competition and consumer issues that may arise such as potential privacy issues, personalization of services, data security, and competitive advantage among others.

The report is due to the Treasurer in March 2024, and in an effort to understand the industry further, the ACCC have invited feedback from key stakeholders such as consumers and businesses on the current practices.

Speaking on the report, the ACCC Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, stated: “The ACCC is actively partnering with the industry to ensure data brokers are using data responsibly and providing clear explanations of how they use personal information”

The regulator’s digital platforms branch has taken a five-year inquiry role into the sector to examine these practices and the report will be handed over to the Treasurer in March 2024.

Public submissions on the report are due 7 August, and the ACCC will review all submissions before finalizing the report. Consumers and businesses are encouraged to use this opportunity to make their views known and provide important feedback for the ACCC.