Australian regulator calls for Facebook, Google to be curbed

Australia's antitrust regulator called for Facebook and Google's influence to be curbed by government regulation in order to prevent abuses of power.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in its preliminary report released Monday recommended changes to merger laws to guard smaller tech firms. It also called for more browsing options for consumers. 

The ACCC's report mainly criticized the company's lack of transparency in how algorithms are used to order online inquiries, arguing that a watchdog may be needed to prevent abuses of power. 

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The inquiry was set up last year by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It was tasked with scrutinizing the impact of tech platforms on the decline of journalism jobs and advertising dollars to traditional media. 

The final report is due after Australia holds a national election in May.

A Facebook Australia spokesperson told The Hill that the company is "currently reviewing [the ACCC report's] analysis and recommendations."

"[W]e remain committed to working with the Commission as they review the contribution of all digital platforms in Australia."

A Google spokesperson told The Hill in a forwarded statement that the report "examines important topics in relation to Australia's changing media and advertising industry."

"We will continue to engage with the ACCC between now and the final report next year."

Facebook did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment. A Facebook spokesman told the Journal that the firm is reviewing the ACCC's recommendations and analysis. 

The report is the latest blow against the major social media firms.

A U.K. Parliament member released a mass of internal documents from Facebook last week that the lawmaker says show the social media giant gave some third parties special access to user data without users' consent.