American tech giants Google and Facebook will face a regulatory crackdown in Australia where the competition watchdog has released its final report into the media giants.
Dominant US tech companies need to rethink
The final report was released on Friday by the competition watchdog, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and called for more anti-trust scrutiny in US technology companies. The report has recommended penalties that will apply to tech giants that inappropriate store or use personal data of users. There are penalties for breach of consumer and competition laws as well.
Speaking to reporters in Sydney, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said,
“The world has never before seen so much commercially sensitive and personal data collected and aggregated in just two companies.”
Now, the government is expected to hold a 12-week public consultation on the report. Potential new regulations will be announced by the end of the year, depending on the open consultation.
Regulators concerned with tech giants
Australian competition watchdog’s report is the latest in the line of attempts made by regulators around the globe to curb the power of tech companies. The large firms now hold everything from news to search engines and advertising, and they have the power to influence people, their shopping habits, and even elections. Recently, the European Union fined Google 8.2 billion euros for antitrust violations. In the US, Facebook was asked to pay $5 billion in settlement to the Federal Trade Commission over privacy issues on Wednesday.
For Facebook, it is going to be a tough journey from here on since it is planning to launch Libra cryptocurrency next year. After since the company made an announcement about its new coin, it has been facing criticism from regulators around the globe. Libra is expected to give Facebook a huge push in finance, which could bring further anti-trust investigations for the social media giant.
The ACCC has noted that the two companies, Google and Facebook, are the two most visited websites in the country. About 94% of all online searches from Australia are done on Google, according to the regulator’s December figures. About 17 million people access Facebook and another 11 million access to Instagram. YouTube, which is owned by Google, also has 17 million users in the country.
Facebook and Instagram draw about 46% of the total advertising revenue in Australia while other websites don’t have more than 5% share in the market. The report makes a total of 23 recommendations, which includes the creation of a specialized unit within the ACCC to probe digital platforms.