ACCC chair Rod Sims says regulators must keep pace with the rapid evolution of digital platforms.

Mr Sims has addressed a number of the ACCC’s key concerns about the growing economic power and influence of digital platforms, and issued a warning to regulators.

The ACCC recently took legal action against Google over the company’s expanded use of personal data.

In Federal Court proceedings against Google, the regulator alleges that it misled Australian consumers to obtain their consent to expand the scope of personal information that it could collect and combine about consumers’ internet activity, for use by Google.

Mr Sims says the ACCC’s recent actions against Google are about holding powerful digital platform businesses accountable for representations made to consumers.

“We believe that consumers have the right to know and make informed choices about their use of digital services, particularly how their personal data is being collected and used for the supposedly free services,” Mr Sims said.

“They are not free; everything has a cost.”

Mr Sims also spoke about the need to address the bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms.

“We are concerned that business, including Australian media businesses, can continue to compete on their merits in the digital age,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims also addressed the ACCC’s concerns about how past and future acquisitions of rivals by the digital platforms could entrench their market power, by providing them with advantages of scale and reducing competition.

“What we don’t want is for large platforms such as Google and Facebook to remove possible rivals that may have otherwise emerged, possibly in partnership with others, as vigorous and effective competitors to their core services,” he said.

Mr Sims said that existing regulatory frameworks have not held up well to the challenges of digitalisation.

“Of course our focus is on both consumer and competition enforcement and regulation, so investigating and pursuing what needs to be done to protect consumers and allow businesses to compete on their merits in the growing digital economy is now a core part of the our work, as it needs to be,” he said.

“We are optimistic we and our fellow regulators and enforcers around the globe can deal with these issues but it requires a multi-faceted approach that includes competition assessment, regulatory responses and consumer enforcement.”