Facebook, Google face tightened regulatory grip in Australia


Facebook and Google face increased scrutiny from Australia’s antitrust watchdog.

Angela Lang/CNET

Australia’s antitrust watchdog wants to create a branch dedicated to investigating Facebook and Google’s impact on competition. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report follows an 18-month probe and comes just after the US Federal Trade Commission slapped the social network with a $5 billion fine over privacy issues.

Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters the fine revealed how seriously regulators were now taking issues creating by tech giants’ use of people’s data, Reuters noted.

“These companies are among the most powerful and valuable in the world and they need to be held to account and their activities need to be more transparent,” he said.

The report pushes for the creation of a “specialist digital platforms branch within the ACCC” to keep a close watch on digital platforms like Facebook and Google. It also recommends those platforms be bound by codes of conduct so people can easily see how their data is used and so media businesses can access their services on “a fair, consistent and transparent basis.”

The report also gave us a sense of how the advertising pie is sliced — every AU$100 spent by Australian advertisers online sees AU$47 go Google, AU$24 to Facebook and AU$29 to other sites.

Facebook acknowledged the importance of rules in digital news distribution for Australia’s 16 million users and small businesses.

 “We are fully committed to engaging in the consultation process around this report, while continuing to deliver the benefits of technology to the millions of Australians who use our services,” said Will Easton, Facebook Australia and New Zealand’s managing director, in an emailed statement.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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