The ACCC will be considering the state of competition in general internet search services in Australia[i], which will include focussing on the impact of regulatory and industry developments (such as new laws introduced or being considered overseas placing obligations[ii] on so-called gatekeeper search engines[iii]), trends in search quality and the emergence of generative AI.

General search services’ refers to services used by consumers to navigate and conduct searches on the internet on a broad range of queries, typically through search engines[iv] such as Google, Bing, Yahoo.

On 18 March. 2024, the ACCC released an issues paper[v], seeking submissions from consumers, businesses and industry participants about their experience and developments in general search services in Australia, including their views about:-

  • The level of competition in general search services;
  • Trends in search quality (including what consumers value in search services);
  • The relationship between the level of competition in the market and search quality.

Submissions can be made to [email protected] by 17 April, 2024.

This ‘general internet search services’ inquiry forms part of the ACCC’s five-year Digital Platform Services Inquiry (directed by the Treasurer in 2020) into markets for the supply of digital platform services in Australia and their impacts on competition and consumers.  The Digital Platform Services Inquiry reports to the Treasurer every 6 months, with this issues paper informing the ACCC’s ninth interim report due to be submitted to the Treasurer by 30 September, 2024.

The ACCC’s eight interim report – due to the Treasurer by 31 March 2024 – will be focused on competition and consumer issues in the supply of data broker services in Australia.   

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice.

© Stephens Lawyers & Consultants, 18 March 2024. Authored by Rochina Iannella, Lawyer, Stephens Lawyers & Consultants

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[i]  ACCC Media Release, ‘ACCC to examine internet search’, 18 March 2024    ACCC to examine internet search | ACCC

[ii]Ibid. – such as those laws introduced or being considered in the European Union, United Kingdom

[iii]Ibid; per ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb

[iv]Ibid. – See ‘Notes to the editor’ at end.

[v] ACCC ‘Digital Services Platform Inquiry – September 2024 report revisiting general search services; Issues Paper’ 18 March 2024 – September 2024 interim report | ACCC