"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", the conclusions of the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry said.
The inquiry discovered that, as a result of Google and Facebook’s market dominance, digital advertising markets had become "opaque" with "uncertain money flows".
An additional consequence was that consumers were not properly informed about the process of personal data collection.
"Action on consumer law and privacy issues, as well as on competition law and policy, will all be vital in dealing with the problems associated with digital platforms’ market power and the accumulation of consumers’ data", ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
The consumer watchdog issued a series of recommendations to tighten regulations around the two companies. They will concern not only these two IT firms but also Youtube and Instagram, which are owned by Google and Facebook, respectively.
"These [recommendations] include requiring designated digital platforms to each provide the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with codes to address the imbalance in the bargaining relationship between these platforms and news media businesses and recognise the need for value sharing and monetisation of content [and] addressing the regulatory imbalance that exists between news media businesses and digital platforms, by harmonizing the media regulatory framework", the statement concluded.
According to Dr Binoy Kampmark, a senior lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne and cybersecurity analyst, "the tech giants are impressively adept at evading and adjusting their approach to regulations."
"Steps by governments will seek to monitor, control and inflict a regime of control on them. They are not necessarily going to make much difference, because the aim has little to do with those giants. The agenda here is against an open information system. While Facebook and Google have been appalling about the way they handle information, governments can hardly be trusted in that regard."
Google and Facebook have come under fire over the past year for breaking privacy rules and collecting users' data without authorization. Facebook is currently recovering from the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, which involved the political consultancy harvesting the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent.