Oct 07

A leading compensation lawyer fears Australia’s laws are out of date to handle the fast-paced technology giants who are collecting and analysing an overwhelming amount of personal data every day.

Travis Schultz has seen an increase in people inquiring about privacy breaches and finding there is often very little legal protection for them, and that often there is no ability to pursue damages.

The principal of Travis Schultz Law said if our government doesn’t break up BigTech now, our economies, our political systems, and our privacy are doomed.

“There was a time when the advent of tech corporations was hailed a boon for global economies – investors poured billions into start-ups in the hope, or expectation, of significant returns,” Mr Schultz said.

“But there’s a dark side and search engines like Google have not just mislead their users about the products and services they were providing, but they have aggressively harvested their data and used it for their own commercial purposes.

“If a bank or financial institution behaved this way, we’d have a class action or Royal Commission before dawn.”

It has been estimated Facebook receives uploads of 136,000 photos every minute along with over half a million comments from its 2 billion active monthly users.

A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that 88% of Americans believe social media companies have at least some control over the mix of news people see, with 62% thinking they have too much control.

“They track our search proclivities as they have the ability to track our search history if we are logged in to Facebook and visit other sites simultaneously – if a government did that, we’d call it spying,” Mr Schultz said.

“We baulk at the Federal Government having our medical histories to create a “My Health Record”, but it’s ok for Google to not only track our movements but our search histories and how long we spend in particular places?”

The Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommended a reform in July this year, following the release of the Digital Platforms Inquiry’s final report.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims said at the time their recommendations were comprehensive and forward looking and deal with the many competition, consumer, privacy and news media issues identified throughout the course of the Inquiry.

“Importantly, our recommendations are dynamic in that they will provide the framework and the information that governments and communities will need to address further issues as they arise,” Mr Sims said.

“Our goal is to assist the community in staying up-to-date with these issues and future-proofing our enforcement, regulatory and legal frameworks.”

Mr Schultz said there are frequently allegations of anti-competitive behaviour, like the potential suit by Unlockd founder, Matt Beriman whose company was crushed after Google blocked it from its app store and AdMob advertising network because they were a competitor.

“The reality is that Google has more than 90% of the search engine market in Australia and according to capitalism principles, monopolies are bad for the system and the consumer: higher prices for consumers, less incentive to invest in research and development and they have the potential to misuse political influence.”

“The bigtech world moves quickly, and our legislature at a snail’s pace. Unless something changes, we may as well let bigtech implant chips in our foreheads. But maybe we are ok with that?”

Travis Schultz Law are leading experts in their field and have decades of experience in compensation and insurance law. For more information visit the website https://www.schultzlaw.com.au/

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