Google and Facebook are under fire in Australia after a preliminary report published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which expressed its concern regarding possible abuse of power stemming from their large market share as reported by news.com.au.
The ACCC showed in their report that although the two digital platforms are significant for communication and access to information, as well as critical partners for Australian businesses, there are questions regarding their ability to favor their interests while disregarding consumers' benefits.
"Consumers’ awareness and understanding of the extensive amount of information about them collected by digital platforms, and their concerns regarding the privacy of their data, are also critical issues," says ACCC's report.
Furthermore, the ACCC report adds that "There are also issues with the role of digital platforms in determining what news and information is accessed by Australians, how this information is provided, and its range and reliability."
ACCC outlined the lack of proper online consumer protection legislation
To make sure that online platforms such as Facebook and Google are not able to put their interests above those of their users, the ACCC's report says that extra regulatory oversight from the government should be a rule of thumb from now on.
Moreover, even though Australians regard the two platforms as valuable assets for information exchange, ACCC's report says that very few of them know about the way Google and Facebook collect and use their data.
Also, the report notes that the current Australian legislation is severely lacking when it comes to protecting consumers and prevent online digital platforms from undermining their users' ability to choose what happens with their personal information.
The Australian watchdog also observed the risk of a lot less reliable news and filter bubbles when it comes to news media accessed by consumers on Facebook's and Google's online platforms.
The report contains 11 preliminary recommendations to boost online platforms' accountability
The ACCC preliminary report outline a series of 11 recommendations designed to address Google and Facebook’s market power, to monitor digital platforms’ activities and the potential, and to address the current regulatory imbalance.
Also, some of the measures are outlined to assist a more effective removal of infringing copyright material and to inform consumers better when dealing with digital platforms after being implemented by online digital platforms with tremendous outreach such as Google and Facebook.
"Australian law does not prohibit a business from possessing significant market power or using its efficiencies or skills to ‘out compete’ its rivals," added ACCC chairman Rod Sims.
"But when their dominant position is at risk of creating competitive or consumer harm, governments should stay ahead of the game and act to protect consumers and businesses through regulation."