The Labour Party voted with the government against a motion, moved by the Australian Greens, calling for an inquiry into public interest need for such protections.
Digital Rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said current telecommunications ownership structures in Australia should be more than enough evidence to warrant having an inquiry.
“The Labor Party has been strong on these issues in the past and we fully expected them to be supportive of our motion today, particularly in light of the recent move to repeal net neutrality protections in the United States and the direct and indirect impacts this could have on Australia.
“The Convergence Review, a flagship communications project of the previous Labor Government commissioned in 2011, found that Australia has no dedicated protections and insufficient legislation to ensure networks don’t discriminate against or prioritise specific services, applications or content over the internet.
“It also noted that the ‘ACCC’s existing powers to address competition issues as they relate to content services in the communications market … are too narrow to address evolving content-specific issues, such as exclusive rights arrangements and bundling, and network neutrality issues that inhibit competition’.
“There are four major telecommunications providers in Australia – Telstra, Optus, Verizon and AAPT – who own a majority market share, and there are already existing instances of anti-competitive arrangements between these service providers and content providers.
“What we don’t know is the depth of these anti-competitive arrangements and the extent of current implications for consumers.
“The telecommunications industry in Australia is effectively self-regulating; neither the ACCC nor the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) possess enough power to ensure that Australians continue to have access to free and open internet.”