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australia hints at bringing new law to rein in powers of global tech giants

Australia has already enforced tough laws that made the tech companies pay local media for content, while Canberra has proposed laws that would force them to share the identities of people with anonymous accounts if another person accuses them of defamation.

Australia has announced a parliamentary inquiry into the behavior of the global tech giants with the aim to prepare new legislation to reign in their powers.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today said a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry will be conducted into the behaviour of the world’s largest technology companies and the need for new legislation.

He said that Australia has led global efforts to rein in the powers of the likes of Alphabet and Facebook, installing legislation that has been heralded as a model for others to copy.

Morrison further stated that the new inquiry will have a wide scope, including asking the committee lawmakers to investigate the algorithms used by social media platforms, how the companies verify identification and age, and the extent to which restrictions on these are being enforced.

“Big tech has big questions to answer,” Morrison told reporters. “Big tech created these platforms, they have a responsibility to ensure they’re safe.”

New laws

The announcement of a new inquiry is likely to stoke tensions between Australia’s government and Facebook, which recently changed its name to Meta, as well as Google.

Earlier this year, Australia implemented tough new laws that made the tech companies pay local media for content, while Canberra has proposed laws that would force them to share the identities of people with anonymous accounts if another person accuses them of defamation.

When Australia proposed legislation forcing both companies to pay local media for news content, Google threatened to close its Australian search engine, while Facebook cut all third-party content from Australian accounts for more than a week.

Both eventually struck deals with Australian media companies after a series of amendments to the legislation were offered. The committee in charge of the new inquiry will report its findings by February 15, 2022.

Javed Mahmood
Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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