The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has made 23 recommendations in its final report to the government to rein in the dominance of Facebook and Google.
The headline proposal is for the two digital platforms to be proactively monitored and investigated for behaviour that harms Australian consumers, businesses or advertisers.
The consumer watchdog identified multiple causes of concern over the dominance of two foreign companies in the digital lives of Australians.
"Consumers are not adequately informed about how their data is collected and used and have little control over the huge range of data collected," the commission stated.
"Australian society, like others around the world, has been impacted by disinformation and a rising mistrust of news."
"We're very concerned that current privacy policies offer consumers the illusion of control but instead are almost legal waivers that give digital platforms’ broad discretion about how they can use consumers' data."
"Due to growing concerns in this area, we believe some of the privacy reforms we have recommended should apply economy-wide."
A Google spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that the company had “engaged closely” with the ACCC throughout the review.
“We will continue to engage with the Government on the recommendations put forward in this report.”
Yahoo Finance has contacted Facebook for comment.
Local journalism is starved of funds
The financial impact on the journalism industry was also reported as a negative, with the majority of revenue going to Facebook and Google rather than the local news organisations that actually produced the content.
"News content creators are reliant on the dominant digital platforms, yet face difficulties in monetising their content," stated the commission.
"The market power of Google and Facebook has distorted the ability of businesses to compete on their merits in advertising, media and a range of other markets."
Among the recommendations, the ACCC suggested Google and Facebook be forced to provide a code of conduct for the way it conducts business with Australian media companies.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority would maintain these codes and monitor the platforms' ability to publish "identify reliable and trustworthy news".
The ACCC also wished for a specialist "digital platforms branch" to be created within its own organisation to keep an eye on Facebook and Google, and enforce any rules put in place.
Outside of the digital platforms, the watchdog recommended a $50 million grant program be created to support local journalism, as well as introduce incentives to encourage philanthropic funding of public interest journalism in Australia.
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