Emerging issues: future thinking | ACMA

Emerging issues: future thinking

As part of our role to facilitate innovative services in the networked Australian communications and media market, the ACMA continues to explore emerging issues and regulatory response strategies. An important aspect of this work is to help individual citizens have a positive communications and media experience.

In a series of four papers, we explore some of the dynamic, multi-dimensional aspects of the contemporary communications and media environment.

Occasional paper 1 focuses on mobile applications (‘apps’)

Apps are one of the most significant developments in media and communications over the past five years. They are at the heart of a revolution that has transformed a mobile telephone from a voice- and text-based platform to a single device that can access a diverse range of content. Apps merge previously distinct industry sectors like computing, publishing and financial services with traditional communications and media. Helping citizens to manage digital content across a broad range of economic and social interactions requires very different regulatory responses. [Download report as Word or PDF. ]

Occasional paper 2 focuses on near field communications (NFC)

Near field communications combine smartphone functionality, access to spectrum for wireless communications and apps. Some of the fastest growing uses of NFC in Australia include electronic and contactless payment. NFC-enabled transactions straddle traditional communications sector regulation, but also involve the financial and retail sectors. NFC is one of a growing range of examples where digital communications are providing the foundations for economic transactions, and where former industry and sectoral boundaries are blurring in a digital economy. [Download report as Word or PDF. ]

Occasional paper 3 focuses on cloud computing

The ACMA’s latest paper focuses on cloud computing and discusses the impact on industry, consumers and citizens of tensions in the current regulation of cloud computing and services.

Described as the bank vaults of the 21st century, in an information economy cloud computing services are presenting new challenges and concerns for consumers, business and regulators.

Seventy-one per cent of Australians are now using a cloud service, due in large part to the growing popularity of apps, smartphones, and access to content anywhere and on any device. But as the popularity of cloud services increases, so too do concerns about sharing personal information and how it is stored in the cloud. Recent ACMA research identified that 52 per cent of Australians have a low level of confidence in the privacy settings of online providers, such as cloud service providers. A further 35 per cent would withhold personal information where a site is not based in Australia. [Download report as Word or PDF. ]

Occasional paper 4 focuses on privacy and digital data

Privacy and protecting personal information have become central concerns for citizens as they use and consume media and communications in different ways. The growth of a networked digital economy and more digital data means increasing amounts of personal information is collected, stored and shared online. Some of the newer forms of digital data practices are leading to a range of privacy-related issues and testing the scope of existing communications privacy protections. In such an innovative environment, the regulator should focus on using traditional ways to protect the privacy of personal communications as well as developing solutions to emerging areas of concern.  [Download report as Word or PDF. ]

The legacy environment

Another component of the current environment is the suite of 26 Acts and 523 pieces of regulation the ACMA administers. In August 2011, we published Broken concepts—the Australian communications legislative landscape. This paper outlined some 55 legislative concepts that form the building blocks of communications and media regulation—and that are broken or significantly strained as a consequence of convergence pressures. This paper was accompanied by Enduring concepts—communications and media in Australia, released in November 2011. It considered the fundamental concepts underlying the rationale for regulatory and non-regulatory responses in media and communications markets, and how these concepts may be applied in a converged media and communications framework.

Now nearly two years on, the ACMA has identified a further 10 legislative concepts that need to be considered as under pressure from contemporary communications and media developments.

Last updated: 20 August 2013