Australia plans tougher laws for tech giants

If the recommendations of a Senate committee are implemented, it is possible that in the near future, digital giants will be subject to the implementation of more stringent rules, such as the establishment of a major tech watchdog and the rights of individuals to delete data.

The findings of a Senate investigation of large technology corporations were presented in a report that was handed down on Thursday. That report indicated worries that the dominant companies had an excessive amount of market concentration, which led to anti-competitive actions.

A fragmented reaction from the many regulatory bodies that were already in place, such as the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission or Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, was another factor that contributed to the existence of “significant regulatory gaps.”

The chair of the committee, a senator from the Liberal Party named Andrew Bragg, stated that big technology was here to stay and that, as a result, it was essential to find the appropriate balance on regulation in order to safeguard the people of Australia.

In light of the fact that every single person in Australia engages with at least one major technological platform on a daily basis, Bragg emphasized the significance of legislation that take into account the market’s concentration and influence.

“They are required to play by our rules because they are living under our roof.”

One of the eight suggestions that have been made to put an end to the dominance of big tech is the establishment of a new independent watchdog. This watchdog would be responsible for coordinating “collaboration efforts, common responsibilities and tasks” among the existing regulators. Additionally, it would provide consumers and digital platforms with a central location to which they could turn for assistance.

It was hinted by the Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, that the federal government has agreed in principle to modify privacy rules in order to provide Australians with the right to be forgotten online. This would enable users to demand that digital platforms delete their data.

One of the recommendations made in the report suggests that legislation should be enacted to grant individuals the ability to delete their personal data in order to provide users with increased control.

According to the recommendations made by the committee, “the committee notes that any right of erasure must extend beyond an individual’s ability to delete photos or posts that they have voluntarily shared online. It must also encompass biographical, geolocation, browsing habits, ‘likes,’ and other data that is covertly collected and manipulated by digital platforms.”

In addition, the report advocated for the implementation of policies that would level the playing field for newer, smaller technology companies. This includes legislation and obligatory reporting in situations where large technology corporations self-prefer their own material on their platforms, giving those companies’ own content more prominence than that of their competitors.

In addition, the committee suggested the establishment of a public register for advertising materials and the implementation of required reporting requirements for significant platforms regarding the transparency of algorithms, the collecting of data, and the profiling of users.

It is at a time when social media firms are facing pressure from the Australian government on multiple fronts that these proposals have been announced.

The Labor government is currently in the midst of revising its anti-misinformation bill, which will provide regulatory agencies with increased authority to compel social media companies to remove anything that is deemed to be “false, misleading, or deceptive.”

While this is going on, tech companies are fighting back against Australian law enforcement authorities that are attempting to undermine end-to-end encrypted services as part of their efforts to address the issue of child safety.

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