News.au.com’s digital team has been given an unprecedented opportunity to shine a spotlight on Australia’s landmark internet advertising laws, which have been hailed as a win for the industry.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will soon launch a full public consultation on whether to extend the existing net-neutrality rules to cover the internet marketing industry.
Under the net neutrality rules, internet service providers (ISPs) cannot block or slow access to websites or content, but must treat all online activity equally.
“It’s really important for the Internet to remain open and free to anyone with an internet connection,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“It will be an enormous opportunity for us to ensure that the rights of consumers are protected, while protecting the rights and interests of ISPs.”
Internet services companies are currently free to charge companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix to carry their advertising, with some internet service companies charging users for preferential access to the web.
“We have seen a number of examples of ISPs, particularly in the US, blocking content and blocking applications, which are critical for many Australians to get online,” Mr Sims said on Tuesday.
“The net neutrality principle requires ISPs to treat all websites equally.
The only exception is the internet service provider (ISP) or telecommunications provider (TPG) that has made a significant investment in a particular website or application.”
The proposed changes are likely to be controversial, with internet service businesses (ISBs) such as iiNet, Optus and Vodafone, among others, opposing the changes.
“This new regime will allow ISPs to block, throttle and prioritise content and applications on the internet, regardless of the content provider’s ‘connection quality’ or whether that connection is ‘open’ or ‘closed’,” iiNet CEO Richard Cockerham said in a statement on Tuesday (AAP: ABC News) The proposal will be the first time that an internet service has been legally allowed to impose an Internet Marketing Tax on a company, and has already sparked criticism from the Federal Government.
Under the proposal, ISPs would be required to pay an internet marketing levy of 20 per cent of their revenue from each internet connection they provide.
The ACT Government will take a view on whether this is justified on the basis of the principle of net neutrality, the regulator said.
Internet advertising is one of the areas of the internet that will likely be the focus of the ACCC’s consultation.”ACCC’s recent consultation has revealed that Australians expect the internet to remain free, and that the current laws have contributed to a fragmented, fragmented, confusing and increasingly unstable marketplace,” Mr Cockerhar said.
The ACCC is proposing to extend net neutrality for internet advertising to all services and applications, except those that are not offered on a “paid-for” basis.
Internet marketing has been around since 2006, but the issue was raised in the ACT in 2017 when the Federal Parliament passed legislation that extended the rules to allow for internet service corporations (ISCs) to charge ISPs to carry the advertising of their competitors.
The proposed legislation will apply to all internet service services, except that of companies like iiNet and VodaNet.