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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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