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Cyclone Debbie in Australia continues to cause Chaos with extreme Weather Conditions

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Sydney, March 30, 2017: The aftermath of tropical Cyclone Debbie in Australia on Thursday has continued to cause chaos, with extreme weather conditions continuing throughout much of the state of Queensland.

Schools in the southeast area of the state have been closed, and employers have been told to send their workers home, as the Bureau of Meteorology is expecting a month’s worth of rain to fall in the course of the day, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The two biggest cities in Queensland, the capital Brisbane, and tourist hot-spot the Gold Coast are bracing for huge downpours, with winds clocking between 90 to 125 km per hour set to hit by Thursday afternoon, with a heavy deluge of rain already falling in both areas.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has called for residents to put safety first, and to immediately retrieve their children from schools in the affected regions.

“We don’t want parents and children to be on the road in 90 km/h weather or heavy rainfall,” Trad said.

With safety as a primary focus, attention is also being directed to the massive recovery operation that is underway, with around 1,200 Australian Defence Force personnel being deployed as part of “Queensland Assist 17,” the recovery operation in conjunction with state emergency services crews.

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One of the main priorities for the rescue and recovery operation is the tourism hub of the Whitsunday Islands, the popular island group which includes both Hayman and Daydream Island.

Tourists have been stranded since the catastrophic weather event, with flights to get visitors and staff out of the devastated areas set to begin later this afternoon, weather permitting, as all maritime methods of transportation have been shut down due to the extreme weather conditions.

But Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on the public to not cancel planned trips to the resorts that have been hit, as the potential toll to tourism would see the cost of damages compounded upon if they were to lose even further revenue. (IANS)

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Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia -- 68 per cent of its population -- while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users - which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users

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Australia recommends strengthening regulation of Facebook, Google. Pixabay

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday proposed measures to counter the dominant market positions of Google and Facebook and strengthen monitoring on their access to information, advertising and consumers personal data.

The regulatory body, which recommended 11 preliminary measures in the report, was directed to conduct a public inquiry into the impact of digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content in 2017 by then treasurer and current Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Acting as an intermediary between consumers and news outlets, platforms are inherently influential in shaping consumers’ choices of digital journalism,” said the report cited by Efe news.

This influential position and filtration of news items could place the consumer in a so-called filter bubble, increasing the risk of consumers being exposed to unreliable news, according to the report.

“The algorithms operated by each of Google and Facebook, as well as other policies, determine which content is surfaced and displayed to consumers in news feed and search results,” it said.

“The ACCC considers that the strong market position of digital platforms like Google and Facebook justifies a greater level of regulatory oversight,” Chair Rod Sims said.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

The commission called for the creation of a regulatory authority with powers to monitor these digital platforms and recommended establishing an automatic mechanism to take down content that violates copyright.

The ACCC said consumers should be informed about the manner in which these platforms collect and use their data to create personalized advertising.

This would include a reform of privacy laws to require the user’s express consent to data collection and “enable consumers to require erasure of their personal information where they have withdrawn their consent”.

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ACCC said that it found that “competition may have been distorted in multiple sectors where consumer data is used”.

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia — 68 per cent of its population — while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users – which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users.

In 2017, Google registered 90 per cent of search traffic originating from Australian desktops and 98 per cent from mobile phones. (IANS)