Australia's consumer watchdog is seeking input from consumers, businesses and others as it examines legislative options to address the dominance of digital platforms.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation managing director David Anderson has reiterated the organisation's changed stance towards Google and Facebook, telling the National Press Club during an address that it would be pushing for payment from these digital entities in the event that they are persuaded to part with cash.
Search giant Google has offered another clarification, the second since it proudly announced "a new news experience launching later this year", with its vice-president of News, Richard Gingras authoring a fresh blog post on Friday (Saturday Australian time) to either clarify — or add confusion to, depending on how you look at it — the initial announcement by Brad Bender, the company's vice-president of Product Management in the news division.
Google appears to be reluctant to offer comments from its Australia managing director Mel Silva to any other publication after she went on the record with The Australian to clarify that the news initiative announced by the company on Thursday would not be about offering cash to Australian publishers for the use of news snippets in search results.
Search behemoth Google has announced a licensing program to pay publishers in Germany, Brazil and Australia for what it describes as a "new news experience launching later this year".
Australia’s competition watchdog, the ACCC, has raised serious concerns over Google’s proposed acquisition of American digital health and fitness company Fitbit, and the potential for the deal to adversely affect market competition.
The Australian Government has come under fire from the Institute of Public Affairs over its response to the digital platforms inquiry, with the institute condemning the Government for a “disgraceful attack” on free speech.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to the adoption of key recommendations from its Digital Platforms Inquiry, saying they address its main competition and consumer priorities, including concerns about privacy and the use of data.
The Federal Government will provide $26.9 million for the Australian competition watchdog to keep an eye on competition issues arising with digital platforms, with the ACCC to set up a special unit for this purpose.
Faced with the power of global digital companies, the Federal Government appears to have lost its cojones. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and a host of other Coalition MPs and Senators have waxed voluble about the need to crack down on the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter, but when it comes to action, they are all like wilting willows.
Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has given a hint as to how the Coalition Government would react to the digital platforms inquiry report which was handed over to it by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in July, claiming during a recent speech that the loss of revenue suffered by traditional media due to the dominance of digital technology firms like Google and Facebook may not be as bad as suggested.
An industry lobby group, that represents the interests of Google and Facebook among others, has told the Australian Government that it does not agree with the creation of an industry code of conduct on fake news, one of the recommendations in the final Digital Platforms Inquiry report released by the ACCC on 26 July.
Predictably, the Federal Government has kicked any decision on the digital platforms inquiry report down the road – to a point in time when it knows whatever it does will not irritate the US Government.
Google and Facebook have acquired enough market power to distort the ability of businesses to compete on merits in advertising, media and a number of other markets, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says in its final digital platforms inquiry report.
The Federal Government has released the final report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's digital platforms inquiry, which was handed to it a month ago, but has given no indication of how it would react to the recommendations, saying only that it would finalise its response by the end of the year.
The Australian consumer watchdog handed its digital platforms inquiry report to the Federal Government on 30 June. A week later, we have only bluster from the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, who has apparently put "Facebook and Google on notice over market power".
ANALYSIS The competition watchdog is due to hand its digital platforms inquiry report to the government this weekend, with media companies keen to see what measures are outlined to reduce the threat posed to online journalism by the likes of Google and Facebook.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has a somewhat predictable way of dealing with what looks like an approaching crisis: write an op-ed that recommends some fanciful Utopian remedy for all the world's ills — that, presumably, will also cover Facebook — and hope that it will get enough traction to prevent regulation.
It is a measure of the contempt with which social media behemoth Facebook regards its users, that after an outage which spread well beyond a day, it can only issue a single tweet to explain what went wrong.
Database giant Oracle Corporation has no stake in the online media business in Australia as far as is known, but the company has nevertheless taken the chance to have a hefty whack at its old foe, Google, through a submission to the ACCC's digital platforms inquiry.
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