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Digital Disruption Brings New Challenges for Consumer Regulator

In his address to the annual National Consumer Congress, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims highlights the importance of consumer advocacy, the challenges presented by new technology and digital disruption, and what's ahead for the ACCC

Fast-moving disruptive technologies and anti-competitive responses to those technologies by incumbent businesses are some of the key challenges facing consumer regulators, said Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims.

Addressing the National Consumer Congress in Melbourne today, Mr Sims highlighted the challenges in regulating rogue online traders, sophisticated scam artists, and new retail practices like ‘subscription traps’, some of which fall short of the Australian Consumer Law and many of whom are based overseas.

“New technology has increased access to more products, services, and information for consumers but with it come new challenges for consumer advocates and regulators,” Mr Sims said.

“Consumer advocacy is essential to ensuring all consumers reap the benefits of a well-functioning market economy and ensuring that consumer protection moves with the times.”

The ACCC also indicated that in 2017 it will be moving beyond the ‘traditional’ areas of consumer guarantees from, for example, consumers’ well-known rights for a repair, replacement or refund when sold defective goods such as clothing, electrical items, or household appliances.

“The ACCC will be looking at consumer guarantees for more complex products such as motor vehicles and the provision of services in industries such as telecommunications providers and airlines,” Mr Sims said.

The regulator’s focus will include investigations and possible actions that test, for example, the extent to which consumers are being directed away from their consumer guarantee rights and remedies in favour of manufacturer warranties.

The full speech is available on the ACCC website: Advocacy for the consumer

15 March 2017

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Final NTP results cannot confirm mobile phone cause cancer in humans

The long awaited final results of the decade-spanning US National Toxicology Program on radiofrequency energy exposure has found no consistent effects in male and female mice and rats exposed to mobile phone signals for their whole life (2 years). However, in a sub-section of the study, researchers found that at the highest doses for the longest periods of time, cellphone radiation might cause a rare cancer in male rats. “High exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in rodents resulted in tumours in tissues surrounding nerves in the hearts of male rats, but not female rats or any mice, according to draft studies from the National Toxicology Program (NTP),” said a press release from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences where the program is headquartered.

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AMTA Annual Report 2017

In 2017, the strong demand for mobile services continues to have an impact on our economy and society as the industry shifts its focus in preparation for 5G, the next generation of mobile technology. AMTA’s latest Annual Report includes the following highlights: As industry prepares for 5G the need for regulatory reform in spectrum management and network infrastructure deployment is increasingly urgent. 5G Mobile – Enabling Businesses and Economic Growth Report by Deloitte Access Economics found that 5G is expected to further drive Australia’s digital economy. It will add to the already significant (and growing) $34 billion in long-term productivity benefits from mobile; and annual network spend from mobile providers is expected to reach $5.7 billion in FY2017-18. The MCF has focused on an agenda of legislative reform to support the efficient and flexible deployment of network infrastructure.

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How will 5G improve network performance

While the technical standards for 5G are still being developed, experts agree that 5G will offer: Latency of less than 1ms; Ability to deliver speeds of up to 10 Gbps and beyond; Energy efficiency in running 1000s of devices; and Improved network capacity by enabling millions of low bandwidth devices to connect simultaneously. Where 4G focussed on providing improved speed and capacity for individual mobile phone users, 5G will enable more industrial applications, and could be a major technological driver in industrial digitalisation. For more information about 5G read our latest report from Deloitte Access Economics. Download the complete report.