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$35,000 home comes with a catch

<p dir="ltr">Etsy is an online marketplace best known for its handmade trinkets and creative wares, but now, the site has decided to broaden its horizons and try its hand at selling houses too. </p> <p dir="ltr">A new listing from the ‘store’ Modular Home Direct is offering eager homeowners and passionate crafters the chance to own a 432-square-foot tiny house for just $35,306.09 ($22,896 USD). </p> <p dir="ltr">However, the property comes with a catch: its loving owner must construct it by themselves.</p> <p dir="ltr">The listing’s description declares it to be a “beautiful modern low cost home” that comes with “doors, windows, insulated wall panels, flooring, baseboard trims, drywall, insulated roof, plumbing and electrical hook ups”. Furniture, however, was not included.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to the American real-estate company Zillow, the home’s asking price of $22,896 USD is less than one tenth of the average cost of a home in the United States (~$346,270 USD).</p> <p dir="ltr">The flatpack property is manufactured by Modular Home Direct, the same company behind the listing, and features all the key necessities in a tiny home as well as a few bonuses - a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, loft, and even front and rear porches.</p> <p dir="ltr">And for anyone looking to take on the challenge - though the offering is limited to the United States due to shipping logistics - there are a few things to consider. For as well as the base construction, the home will also require the installation of electricity and plumbing. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to the <em>Daily Mail</em>, the US-based property site Home Advisor has estimated that these costs would see potential owners forking out anywhere between $550 to $2,3000 USD on just the property’s electrical wiring, while plumbing could start at around $360 and could reach up to $2,000. </p> <p dir="ltr">Modular Home Direct aren’t the first to try and capitalise on the growing tiny house movement, as people all over the world seek alternative housing options as real estate prices continue to soar. </p> <p dir="ltr">And while some online weren’t thrilled with the idea, others were onboard, though most seemed to agree that the price was too good to be true, and likely would increase as more costs came to light.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The cost of materials in a house is much less than the ground it sits on,” a<em> Daily Mail </em>reader said. “By the time you buy the land, go through the permitting process, bring utilities in.. the cost gets closer to an established home.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“They have an interesting website, if you're handy it could be a diy project. My brother in law has a diy log cabin, family pitched in to build it, it's very nice,” one shared. “I think my husband and I could build this. We both know electrical and plumbing... only bump would be the heat pump”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You have to buy the land, buy the house, put the house together (or pay someone to put it together), and pay someone to hook up the electricity and water. You'd probably have to pay for building permits and inspections,” someone said, before noting that “so once you've done all that, it would probably be easier just to buy a move-in ready house.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And as another wrote, “like everything else meant to be affordable, it will soon cost $109K when it catches on.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Etsy</em></p>

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ACCC says consumers need more choices about what online marketplaces are doing with their data

<p>Consumers using online retail marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon “have little effective choice in the amount of data they share”, according to the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">latest report</a> of the Australian Competition &amp; Consumer Commission (ACCC) Digital Platform Services Inquiry.</p> <p>Consumers may benefit from personalisation and recommendations in these marketplaces based on their data, but many are in the dark about how much personal information these companies collect and share for other purposes.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb</a> said:</p> <blockquote> <p>We believe consumers should be given more information about, and control over, how online marketplaces collect and use their data.</p> </blockquote> <p>The report reiterates the ACCC’s earlier calls for amendments to the Australian Consumer Law to address unfair data terms and practices. It also points out that the government is considering <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">proposals for major changes to privacy law</a>.</p> <p>However, none of these proposals is likely to come into effect in the near future. In the meantime, we should also consider whether practices such as obtaining information about users from third-party data brokers are fully compliant with existing privacy law.</p> <p><strong>Why did the ACCC examine online marketplaces?</strong></p> <p>The ACCC examined competition and consumer issues associated with “general online retail marketplaces” as part of its <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">five-year Digital Platform Services Inquiry</a>.</p> <p>These marketplaces facilitate transactions between third-party sellers and consumers on a common platform. They do not include retailers that don’t operate marketplaces, such as Kmart, or platforms such as Gumtree that carry classified ads but don’t allow transactions.</p> <p>The ACCC report focuses on the four largest online marketplaces in Australia: Amazon Australia, Catch, eBay Australia and Kogan. In 2020–21, these four carried sales totalling $8.4 billion.</p> <figure class="align-center "><em><img src=";q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset=";q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w,;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w,;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w,;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w,;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w,;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></em><figcaption><em><span class="caption">Online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Catch and Kogan facilitate transactions between third-party buyers and sellers.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Shutterstock</a></span></em></figcaption></figure> <p>According to the report, eBay has the largest sales of these companies. Amazon Australia is the second-largest and the fastest-growing, with an 87% increase in sales over the past two years.</p> <p>The ACCC examined:</p> <ul> <li>the state of competition in the relevant markets</li> <li>issues facing sellers who depend on selling their products through these marketplaces</li> <li>consumer issues including concerns about personal information collection, use and sharing.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Consumers don’t want their data used for other purposes</strong></p> <p>The ACCC expressed concern that in online marketplaces, “the extent of data collection, use and disclosure … often does not align with consumer preferences”.</p> <p>The Commission pointed to surveys about <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Australian consumer attitudes to privacy</a> which indicate:</p> <ul> <li>94% did not feel comfortable with how digital platforms including online marketplaces collect their personal information</li> <li>92% agreed that companies should only collect information they need for providing their product or service</li> <li>60% considered it very or somewhat unacceptable for their online behaviour to be monitored for targeted ads and offers.</li> </ul> <p>However, the four online marketplaces analysed:</p> <ul> <li>do not proactively present privacy terms to consumers “throughout the purchasing journey”</li> <li>may allow advertisers or other third parties to place tracking cookies on users’ devices</li> <li>do not clearly identify how consumers can opt out of cookies while still using the marketplace.</li> </ul> <p>Some of the marketplaces also obtain extra data about individuals from third-party data brokers or advertisers.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">harms from increased tracking and profiling</a> of consumers include decreased privacy; manipulation based on detailed profiling of traits and weaknesses; and discrimination or exclusion from opportunities.</p> <p><strong>Limited choices: you can’t just ‘walk out of a store’</strong></p> <p>Some might argue that consumers must not actually care that much about privacy if they keep using these companies, but the choice is not so simple.</p> <p>The ACCC notes the relevant privacy terms are often spread across multiple web pages and offered on a “take it or leave it” basis.</p> <p>The terms also use “bundled consents”. This means that agreeing to the company using your data to fill your order, for example, may be bundled together with agreeing for the company to use your data for its separate advertising business.</p> <p>Further, as my research has shown, there is <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">so little competition on privacy</a> between these marketplaces that consumers can’t just find a better offer. The ACCC agrees:</p> <blockquote> <p>While consumers in Australia can choose between a number of online marketplaces, the common approaches and practices of the major online marketplaces to data collection and use mean that consumers have little effective choice in the amount of data they share.</p> </blockquote> <p>Consumers also seem unable to require these companies to delete their data. The situation is quite different from conventional retail interactions where a consumer can select “unsubscribe” or walk out of a store.</p> <p><strong>Does our privacy law currently permit all these practices?</strong></p> <p>The ACCC has reiterated its earlier calls to amend the Australian Consumer Law to prohibit unfair practices and make unfair contract terms illegal. (At present unfair contract terms are just void, or unenforceable.)</p> <p>The report also points out that the government is considering proposals for major changes to privacy law, but <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">these changes</a> are uncertain and may take more than a year to come into effect.</p> <p>In the meantime, we should look more closely at the practices of these marketplaces under current privacy law.</p> <p>For example, under the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">federal Privacy Act</a> the four marketplaces</p> <blockquote> <p>must collect personal information about an individual only from the individual unless … it is unreasonable or impracticable to do so.</p> </blockquote> <p>However, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">some online marketplaces</a> say they collect information about individual consumers’ interests and demographics from “<a href=";mkevt=1&amp;mkcid=1&amp;mkrid=705-53470-19255-0&amp;campid=5338596835&amp;customid=&amp;toolid=10001#section4" target="_blank" rel="noopener">data providers</a>” and <a href=";ref_=footer_iba" target="_blank" rel="noopener">other third parties</a>.</p> <p>We don’t know the full detail of what’s collected, but demographic information might include our age range, income, or family details.</p> <p>How is it “unreasonable or impracticable” to obtain information about our demographics and interests directly from us? Consumers could ask online marketplaces this question, and complain to the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Office of the Australian Information Commissioner</a> if there is no reasonable answer.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: --></p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Katharine Kemp</a>, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law &amp; Justice, UNSW, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>


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