Technology giants Adobe, Apple and Microsoft will be made to answer questions as part of the federal government’s inquiry into IT pricing, after they were summonsed to appear at a public hearing on March 22.
The House Committee on Infrastructure and Communications today said it had summonsed the three companies to appear.
The committee is exploring the impact of prices charged to Australian consumers for IT products.
Federal MP Ed Husic welcomed the move, and said it was probably a world first.
“This is an important move – but one we shouldn’t have to take,” Husic said in a statement.
“These firms should have cooperated and been prepared to be more open and transparent about their pricing approaches.”
Husic said Adobe, Apple and Microsoft were just a few firms that had continually defied the public’s call for answers and refused to appear before the IT Pricing Inquiry.
Bruce Arnold, lecturer in law at the University of Canberra, said it’s likely the tech giants could continue to stall once in front of the committee, or seek to provide information on a confidential basis.
“Where it becomes interesting is when they do turn up and start doing the ‘well we forgot’, or ‘it’s confidential’, or ‘the information isn’t available in Australia and it might take some time to get it’,” Mr Arnold said
He added that in order to protect information from competitors the companies were likely to seek an in-camera session.
Nick Champion, who is chair of the committee investing IT pricing, said such a session would just be part of the process of gathering information.
“You do have to be cognisant of commercial sensitivity and that’s why the house has in-camera sessions to allow for that.
“We want to be in a position where we can make a substantial report to the parliament and obviously help to inform the debate.”
Consumer group CHOICE welcomed the move by the Federal Parliamentary Committee, arguing the IT pricing inquiry had been hampered by stonewalling from Apple, Adobe and Microsoft.
“Australians are waking up to the fact that we are being ripped off. We believe it’s time that these companies realise this and start pricing fairly in the Australian market,” said CHOICE chief Alan Kirkland.
A spokesperson for Adobe today confirmed the company had received a summons from the Committee.
“Adobe will cooperate with the committee as we have done since the inquiry began,” she said.