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Australia seeking heavier privacy fines against Facebook, Google

The Australian government is proposing heftier fines against tech giants such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. unit Google LLC over privacy breaches, Bloomberg News reported, citing a statement.

Under planned amendments to the country's Privacy Act, fines for serious or repeated data breaches will be increased to A$10 million from A$2.1 million. A company could also be charged three times the value of any benefit gained or 10% of its yearly domestic turnover, whichever is greater.

Digital companies will also be required to stop the use of private data upon request as well as comply to tougher rules on protecting personal information of children and vulnerable groups.

Furthermore, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner will be empowered to issue infringement notices regarding unresolved minor breaches.

"These changes will strengthen our existing privacy safeguards to help ensure entities operate transparently and handle information responsibly," said Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier urged the suspension of livestreaming on social media after the spread of video footage of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. Politicians across the globe have also called on Facebook and its peers to accept more responsibility for the extremist material posted on their sites.

Meanwhile, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has said it wanted to become the sole regulator of digital platforms and online content in Australia.