Our attention for sale: why the Big Tech advertising model needs greater scrutiny and regulation

The ACCC’s Digital Advertising Services Inquiry is a valuable addition to initiatives which seeks to correct the market imbalance caused by Big Tech companies like Google and Facebook.

The public doesn’t know that every time they visit a website with advertising, there is an invisible, real-time auction for their attention happening behind ad tech platforms. This automated trading floor takes bids from advertisers, companies and political parties who match their desired criteria to consumer online profiles and places a price on consumer eyeballs.

In our submission to this inquiry we recommend three key areas for development:

1) ‘Clean slate’ provisions which allow consumers the right to request deletion of their personal information that’s been collected by online platforms.

2) An independent consumer advocate with powers to help the public navigate the various commercial processing of their personal information/data.

3) Immediate enforcement of data separation, or setting purpose limitations of no data sharing between products of large digital platforms, including for all acquisitions, both old and new.

We also recommend streamlining initiatives with the Privacy Act review, and ensuring YouTube and Facebook are included in future developments in recognition of their outsized dominance in the ad tech space.