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People Rallies in Australia after Proposal to house Refugees locally drew People both For and Against the Measure

Pro-refugee supporters, part of the group "Welcome to Eltham," carried colorful signs that read “Eltham says yes to refugees”

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FILE - Protestors against asylum seekers being deported, gather for a rally in Sydney, Australia, Feb. 4, 2016. VOA
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November 5, 2016: Hundreds of people rallied in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday after a proposal to house refugees locally drew people both for and against the measure.

Protesters belonging to anti-Islam groups said they were against a plan to settle 120 refugees from Syria and Iraq at a senior housing facility in the Eltham neighbourhood.

Anti-immigration demonstrators carried Australian flags and marched near the Eltham’s Andrew Park. Police presence kept groups separated to avoid clashes.

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Pro-refugee supporters, part of the group “Welcome to Eltham,” carried colourful signs that read “Eltham says yes to refugees.”

“Most people sort of, keep to themselves. A lot of them are in their eighties and nineties and yes, they just keep to themselves. They are a bit concerned about it but they will just wait and see,” John Conroy, resident of Saint Vincent’s Care Services, said.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that locals were discussing the idea to settle refugees in the St. Vincent’s facility, but mostly they were not happy that people from other areas were flooding to Eltham to demonstrate.

Australia has a tough immigration policy and asylum-seekers trying to reach the continent are sent to camps on Nauru or Papua New Guinea, where their status as refugees are either accepted or rejected.

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Protesters react as they hold placards and listen to speakers during a rally in support of refugees in central Sydney, Australia, Oct. 19, 2015. VOA
Protesters react as they hold placards and listen to speakers during a rally in support of refugees in central Sydney, Australia, Oct. 19, 2015. VOA

In 2015, the Australian government announced a one-time proposal to accept 12,000 refugees who were running away from areas of conflict such as Iraq and Syria.

But last week, officials announced a plan to permanently ban asylum seekers who try to reach the continent by boat from entering under any visa category.

Meanwhile in Sydney others decided to rally for the closing of detention centers—places that have been heavily criticized by human rights groups.

“The detention centers are no suitable environments for the health of all detainees, but the effects on children are far worse,” Brian Owler, president of the Australian Medical Association, said in a statement.

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According to immigration figures as of August 31, there are close to 1,589 asylum-seekers among them 1,382 men, 114 women and 93 children being held on Manus Island and Nauru.

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the government is maintaining a dialogue with other countries, such as the Philippines, to settle refugees. (VOA)

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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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400 mn using Facebook Watch, now available on desktop. 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)