It has been a bad week for big tech companies when it comes to antitrust investigations, with Facebook’s second FTC probe being the most notable after receiving a $5 billion fine for a previous one.
Now the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has its eyes set on big tech companies, as it has proposed the creation of an antitrust watchdog which could closely monitor the activities of firms like Google and Facebook when it comes to behaviour in the marketplace and any manipulation thereof.
The ACCC has told Reuters that it will be looking at how tech firm’s make use of algorithms in particular that match consumers with advertising. How the organisation aims to get access to such information, however, is unclear, with a great deal of compliance required from the perspective of the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Along with the watchdog proposal, the ACCC is also asking for a new code of conduct to be drafted that would allow consumers to have greater control over what data is collected and how it is used.
How the big tech companies would react to such scrutiny remains to be seen, with past cases of antitrust yielding different results. Google’s fine over Android in the EU last year for example, saw the company having a less than favourable outlook regarding the European Commission.
Australia’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg also commented on the recent fine that Facebook received from the FTC, noting that it was a reflection of how people felt about their data being used without their knowledge.
“(Google and Facebook) need to be held to account and their activities need to be more transparent. There is no option other than to put in place the right regulatory and legislative regime to protect the public’s privacy,” he added.
With a 12-week public consultation still awaiting the proposals from the ACCC, which total 23 at this stage, the next few months will determine whether Australia takes a stauncher stance on the behaviour of big tech companies in its country.
It should also be interesting to see if countries like South Africa follow suit.[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]