Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg welcomed the report although it was unclear which of the recommendations the government may adopt. File photo/ AFP
Australia’s competition watchdog on Friday recommended tighter controls on the use of personal data and measures to ease Facebook and Google’s dominance of online advertising among a slew of measures to better police the internet giants.
Intensifying the global drumbeat of calls to regulate some of the 21st century’s biggest corporate titans, Australia’s government said it would take the watchdog’s 23 recommendations and propose regulation by the end of the year.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg welcomed the report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, although it was unclear which of the recommendations the government may implement.
“They need to be held to account and their activities need to be more transparent,” Frydenberg said as the report was unveiled.
“The world has never before seen so much commercially sensitive and personal data collected and aggregated in just two companies,” he added.
The watchdog said it is estimated that 17 million Australians use Facebook each month and spend an average of 30 minutes on the platform a day, while 98 percent of Australian mobile searches use Google.
“Our legislative and regulatory framework could not and did not anticipate such a new paradigm,” Frydenberg said.
While stopping short of advocating the break-up of Facebook and Google, the measures — if adopted in full — would challenge the companies’ highly profitable business models.
They would also open up commercially sensitive algorithms to outside scrutiny, bolster traditional media companies and introduce “sufficiently large sanctions” to deter platforms from misusing data or spreading disinformation.
DIGI — a lobby group for Facebook, Google, Twitter and other tech companies — urged regulators to closely examine how the recommendations would “impact Australia’s digital industry at large and Australia’s global standing as a place to invest in technology.”
“There is no option other than to put in place the right regulatory and legislative regime to protect the public’s privacy,” Frydenberg said.
“What this report finds is that so much personal data is being collected without informed consent. It’s an extremely serious issue.”
Conservatives remain convinced that the tech industry is biased against them. They point to evidence that Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube are staffed disproportionately by liberals, a fact that nobody seriously denies. In a fascinating essay for the New Atlantis, Adam White argues that there is a deep alignment between their corporate culture and the assumptions of modern liberalism.
The formal investigation opens a new chapter in the European Union's campaign to address the dominance of US tech firms with Google, Facebook and Apple also regular targets of regulators in Brussels.
Social media giant Facebook Inc said on Friday it would strengthen measures to fight fake news in Australia and briefly block foreigners from buying political advertisements in the lead-up to a national election due in a few weeks.
In the crucial Australian state of Queensland, Arthur Plate says he will turn his back on mainstream politics when he steps into the ballot box later this month. Instead, the retired miner will pick between a pair of right-wing populists.
The blast, which took place late Saturday in west Kabul, came as Washington and the Taliban are in the final stages of a deal to reduce the US military presence in Afghanistan. The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack.
Sharjah Police have arrested a ten-member Asian gang for possessing and selling counterfeit goods worth Dhs17 million. Suspects were arrested after a report was filed by one of the major brands who claimed that several vendors
The Abu Dhabi Police, in cooperation with the Sharjah Police and the Ajman Police, have seized three gangs of 25 Asians for involvement in phone scam crimes through which they were able to cheat their victims and seize their savings in fraudulent ways.
“The Project includes the construction of two bridges on the collector road as well as ramps to serve right, left and U-turns. The project works also cover widening connecting streets, and a cycling bridge in addition to lighting works, rainwater drainage systems, and utility lines.