The land down under may have the upper hand on Big Tech by passing regulation that could disrupt Google’s dominance on advertising.
Countries around the world have increasingly become wary of Big Tech’s dominance in recent months, and Australia is thinking about hitting at least one tech behemoth where it hurts. “An Australian regulator is considering letting internet users choose what personal data companies like Google share with advertisers, as part of the country’s attempts to shatter the dominance of tech titans,” Reuters reported Jan. 27. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also proposed the tactic of “limiting the internet giants’ ability to access users’ online histories to cross-sell products,” Reuters added.
The extent of Google’s dominance on advertising in Australia is staggering. The ACCC has blasted the current state of affairs as being “marked by a lack of competition, transparency and choice,” Reuters paraphrased. The ACCC reportedly estimated: “Google’s share of Australian digital advertising revenue at between 50% and 100%, depending on the service.”
ACCC Chair Rodney Sims explained that Google’s multifaceted grip on power is the root of the problem, according to Reuters. “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,” said Sims. In short, Google could be paid to host ads, and then the tech company could pretend the ads were far more effective than they actually were, in order to make sure clients keep paying for them. “There’s a lot wrong with the market ... and it’s effectively dominated by one player,” Sims added.
Reuters’ reporting included commentary from a Google spokesperson which may as well have been an automated reply. The spokesperson suggested Google’s advertising service “helps businesses connect with customers and publishers reach new audiences, creating new growth and revenue opportunities for them.”
Australia is one of many powerful countries who have become bolder about the prospect of tackling Big Tech’s unchecked power in recent weeks.
After then-President Donald Trump was suspended from Twitter, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack accused Big Tech of “censorship” following the U.S. Capitol riot. “There’s been a lot of people who have said and done a lot of things on Twitter previously that haven’t received that sort of condemnation or indeed censorship. But I’m not one who believes in that sort of censorship,” McCormack said.
In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared that plans to make an international anti-censorship coalition take action are already underway. “I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” he declared. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard also commented: “Given that Mexico, through our president, has spoken out, we immediately made contact with others who think the same.”. AP News illustrated that Mexico’s government had reportedly “heard from officials in France, Germany, the European Union, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia."
In Poland, “A draft law being readied in Poland will make it illegal for tech companies to take similar actions there,” The Guardian reported. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed his desire for an open and free internet without censorship in a Facebook post as well. For Morawiecki, the fight for free speech appears to be very personal. “For close to 50 years we lived in a country in which censorship was practiced, in which Big Brother told us how we are meant to live and what we are meant to feel, and what we are not allowed to think, say or write. That is why we are so concerned with any attempt to limit freedom,” he said.
Conservatives are under attack. Contact Google at (650) 253-000, or by mail to 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043, and demand that the platform provide transparency: Companies need to design open systems so that they can be held accountable, while giving weight to privacy concerns. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.