(Australian Associated Press)
Australia’s regulators will make sure local consumers will be protected with “checks and balances” on Facebook’s plans for a new online currency.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also indicated potential competition law changes on tech giants have been handed a report into digital platforms and their effect on data collection, privacy and the news media.
Facebook has announced plans for a transnational currency called Libra, allowing the social media company to track users’ purchases along with all the other data it already collects from mobile devices.
“In terms of new cryptocurrencies and new payment systems and the like, we obviously welcome these developments, and we’ve been encouraging the FinTech sector and doing a lot of work with them,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.
“The Libra initiative, that will be assessed by the regulators and obviously you do need to have the right checks and balances.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last week handed in its final report on digital platforms, with a key focus being the dominant market power Google and Facebook have in online advertising and data collection.
Mr Frydenberg has said there are questions to answer around competition between the tech giants, but he’s promising consumers will get the ability to move their own private data around with the Consumer Data Right.
“What we want to see is an opportunity for Australians to have their information more readily available to other service providers, with of course their approval, so they can get the best offers,” he said.
Facebook and Google make billions of dollars in Australia but employ very few locals and pay just tens of millions in tax.
Mr Frydenberg said the issue of international tax avoidance had come up at the recent G20 finance ministers’ meeting, where they discussed a “digital tax”.
“Australia can’t and will not move alone on that, but what we are trying to do is work with other countries on a global solution to some of the challenges that are being posed to traditional tax systems by the digital economy,” he said.
The final ACCC report on digital platforms has been handed to Mr Frydenberg but there is no timeline yet for its release.