In a move that could establish a precedent for global lawmakers, Australia said it would create an office to police Google and Facebook. Governments from Europe to the U.S. have been working to face concerns from “fake news” to anti-trust issues, Reuters reported.
Canberra would create an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) branch to look into how firms tap into algorithms to match viewers with advertisements to generate income. The new office was among 23 recommendations from the ACCC, along with protections for the news media, strengthening privacy laws and a code of conduct for internet companies regarding how they profit from user content.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said per reports that Facebook’s $5 billion fine in the United States for breaches of privacy demonstrates that regulators are now taking issues into serious consideration. Frydenberg said, according to the outlet, “These companies are among the most powerful and valuable in the world.”
Frydenberg said the government wanted to “lift the veil” on the firms’ algorithms that are used to monetize as well as collect the data of users. He reportedly accepted the ACCC’s “overriding conclusion that there is a need for reform.”
The news comes as it was reported earlier this month that the Federal Trade Commission and Facebook had reached a tentative decision to settle ongoing privacy issues with a $5 billion settlement. The commission voted to approve the settlement with a 3-2 vote along the party lines of Republicans and Democrats, with the former having the majority. The issue per reports earlier this month will now move to the Justice Department for review.
The settlement was also said to encompass new directives on how Facebook can handle the privacy of its users going in the future. Facebook was said to be anticipating the fine and noted in April that it was going to have to pay an amount around that figure.