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Australian Government Steps Up Regulations On Facebook And Google

Australia establishes new regulators to look into anti-trust issues regarding Google (GOOGL.O) and Facebook (FB.O).

The U.S. technology giants will be regulated to check if there are fake news and political bias spread through their online platforms.

These companies yield immense power and are valuable on a global level, says Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Australia had imposed a fine of $5 billion on Facebook on privacy breaches.

Digital platforms have to be regulated and held to account. Their activities have to be more transparent, says Frydenberg.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will act as an antitrust watchdog to see how these online platforms have got a stronghold on media operators and make use of algorithms to provide advertisement according to viewer preferences. Canberra would become a special branch of the ACCC.

The ACCC has asked for reforms over the use of user’s data and the algorithms used to gather information. They have to be transparent and the veil lifted, says Frydenberg.

Fairness for other small media players will have to be provided through tighter oversight on these digital platforms, says the Australian government.

The ACCC has been investigating the digital search engines and the social media platforms for 18 months, especially into the content collection, competition in the media and in the advertising services.

Frydenberg says a 600-page report that would contain 23 recommendations will be provided to strengthen regulations.

Google states that they have been engaged closely throughout the process with the ACCC, regarding the changing media in Australia and its advertising industry.

The ACCC has found a “bargaining power imbalance” by Facebook and Google on its media business dealings. ACCC recommends that codes of conduct have to be developed to ensure businesses have a fair and transparent platform. These should be ratified by regulators, to protect users and businesses.

A code of conduct is recommended for digital platforms too, says the ACCC.

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