Remember the IT Pricing Inquiry? That big, ugly inquiry that saw tech giants dragged before the Parliament to explain why they choose to gouge Aussies for tech, software and content? A year has gone by since the final report was submitted to the Parliament, but sadly it was swept under the political rug in favour of electioneering and a change of government from Labor to the Coalition. That Coalition government finally has a response to the recommendations made by the inquiry, but you can’t see it just yet. Here’s why.
It had been reported that the release of the Government’s response would coincide with the one-year anniversary of tabling the final report, but a week has since gone by and no response has materialised.
Usually when a Parliamentary Report is submitted to the Government, it’s appropriate to respond within six months of its tabling. It’s been quite a bit longer than that now, and we’re likely to wait a few more weeks on top of that.
A source close to the report has told us this morning that the Government’s response paper does exist, but it’s currently going through the final approval stages before it can be released to the public. T’s are being crossed, I’s are being dotted and so on.
Meanwhile, the Coalition has signalled it’s intentions to keep hammering big IT companies for gouging customers in a new root-and-branch review into competition law. The issues paper for the inquiry asked how the government could regulate the market to ensure that tech and gadgets carry fairer prices.
As yet, there hasn’t been a huge response in submissions to the question on IT pricing laid out in the root-and-branch review, so we’ll have to see how the government tackles that from a competition perspective.
Coalition MP, Paul Fletcher, has previously communicated his feelings on the matter, saying that he disagrees that Aussies should be taught how to circumvent geoblocks:
The Committee recommended that government should advise Australian consumers on how they could circumvent geoblocking mechanisms. This is a very odd idea which amounts to recommending that the government should advise people on how to break the law.
Geoblocking mechanisms are a well-established approach used by copyright owners to protect their property. For example, if the rights to a song or movie or other piece of content are licensed by the copyright owner for use in one jurisdiction but not another, then geoblocking is used so that the content cannot be accessed online in the jurisdiction where the copyright owner has not licensed its use. To ‘circumvent an ‘accesscontrol technological protection measure’ (which includes geoblocking mechanisms) is a breach of the Copyright Act.
We’ll have to see whether or not that view is shared by the wider Coalition when the official response is outed hopefully some time in the next few weeks.
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