Tech Check Digest - October 28, 2021

This week was a huge one for online regulation, with the much anticipated updates to the Privacy Act review dropping, including a specific Online Privacy Bill, the latest ACCC report on competition in search, and a private member's bill on social media defamation.


Social media giants face $10m fines for privacy breaches under proposed government reform (via Guardian Australia). Proposed reforms to the Privacy Act include up to $10m in fines for repeated privacy breaches. Other major proposals include requiring platforms to verify users' ages, and getting parental consent for children.

Submissions are open to the public to feedback on the Privacy Act review proposals (via Attorney-General's Department). This includes public submissions for an Online Privacy Bill that looks specifically at social media and online platforms.

The ACCC has released its report on competition in search engines in Australia (via ACCC). The third Digital Platforms Services Inquiry interim report found that Google's 94% search engine share is harmful to competition and consumers. One of the proposals to address this is the development of a default choice screen on smartphones that allows users the ability to choose their preferred search engine upfront.

Nationals MP Anne Webster introduced a private member's bill to make social media companies liable (via Parliament of Australia). The Bill proposes that social media companies should be liable as publishers if they don't take down allegedly defamatory material within 48 hours of receiving a notice from the eSafety Commissioner.

Pressure is growing for the government to designate Facebook under the News Media Bargaining Code (via InnovationAus). Facebook has refused to negotiate with critical publishers like SBS and The Conversation, which has ACCC Chair Rod Sims "concerned".


Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen briefs Australian MPs (via Reset Australia). After her explosive revelations, Frances Haugen has spoken to other governments globally, including in the UK, EU and Australia.


A new podcast about how the internet is "slowly breaking our brains" (via Crooked). Jon Favreau hosts candid conversations with newsmakers, political figures and artists to discuss how the internet shapes the way we live.


Australia's annual Internet Governance Forum NetThing is on early November (via NetThing). The conference themes this year are "Inclusion", "Health", "Trust", and "Environment" including a panel with our very own Director Peter Lewis, and a special Burning Platforms session.