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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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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.

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Flexibility in Network Deployment Regulations

The Department of Communications and the Arts has just completed its public consultation on a suite of amendments to the regulatory framework governing carriers’ deployment of mobile network infrastructure. AMTA joined Communications Alliance in welcoming the opportunity to provide comment on the DoCA consultation paper.

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ARPANSA's latest literature review reports on new Australian study which finds no increase in brain cancer with mobile phone use

In The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA's) regular EMR literature survey for May 2016, ARPANSA report on the recent Australian study by Professor Simon Chapman which asks the question "Has the incidence of brain cancer risen in Australia since the introduction of mobile phones 29 years ago?".  The paper pubslished in cancer epidermology compared mobile phone ownership with the incidence of brain cancer in Australia.  In the study, brain cancer incidence rates from 1982 to 2012 are compared with the number of mobile phone accounts in the Australian population from 1987 to 2012. The study found that although mobile phone use increased from 0% to 94% during the 30 year period brain cancer incidence rates were stable.  This finding is consitent with previous studies in the US, UK. New Zealand and Nordic countries. See ARPANSA's commentary here: Full paper may be found here: