Australia steps up the fight with Google

Photo: AP Rod Sims

Australian users will be in position to choose what part of their personal data would be shared by companies like Google with advertisers or other interested parties in the latest attempt to adjust country’s legislation linked to big internet firms, Reuters reported.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also proposed limiting the internet giants’ ability to access users’ online histories to cross-sell products. The proposals were part of the ACCC’s interim report into digital advertising in Australia, a $2.6 billion market the regulator said is marked by a lack of competition, transparency and choice.

The ACCC estimates Google’s share of Australian digital advertising revenue at between 50% and 100%, depending on the service.

“Google is the only one that can determine the effectiveness of ads, so really often they’re marking their own homework when it comes to the effectiveness of the ads they supply,” ACCC chair Rod Sims told Reuters in an interview. “There’s a lot wrong with the market ... and it’s effectively dominated by one player,” he added. The proposals add a new element to the antitrust regulator’s campaign to check the power of online behemoths Google and Facebook Inc in Australia. Proposals by the ACCC that Google pay local media for content that drives traffic to their websites have been adopted in draft legislation by the government. Google has criticised the planned News Media Bargaining Code, threatening to pull its search engine from Australia if they go ahead. In a digital advertising report, the regulator also suggested a system under which users’ personal data would be shared more widely with advertisers, on an anonymised basis, to foster more competition.

Allowing internet users to choose to give other parties access to their clicking data may also promote competition among online advertising suppliers, the ACCC said.

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