As society struggles to to catch up with the pace of technological change, governments around the world are waking up to the fact that our internet economy and how it operates is unaccountable and undertaxed.

The European Union is reviewing Google for allegedly abusing its dominant market position in search. Germany is already investigating how Facebook profits from user data.

The US is looking at whether Apple broke laws with software updates which slowed older iPhones. And Congress is holding more hearings on the use of social media platforms to allegedly disrupt US elections.

Even so, with the increased scrutiny over disinformation, fake news and malicious actors buying ads, the internet companies could still find themselves hit by regulation sparked by the big tech backlash.

Consumers, too, are asking if things like smartphones, designed to keep us online for longer are just making companies richer at the expense of children's mental health.

"Since the Russia meddling and fake news, you're seeing a lot more heat on Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet - not just on Capitol Hill, but the EU and abroad," says Daniel Ives, chief investment officer at GBH Insights.

[Along with Facebook] you're seeing Twitter, Alpha, and Youtube be a lot more strict and a lot more focused on some of the content that's coming through as we're seeing the double-edged sword of social media.

Daniel Ives, chief investment officer, GBH Insights

Facebook has recently changed its news feed algorithm to reflect communication from friends and family, as opposed to news outlets, and Ives believes "they're definitely in the crosshairs of legislatures. And I think you're seeing Twitter, Alpha, and Youtube be a lot more strict and a lot more focused on some of the content that's coming through as we're seeing the double-edged sword of social media."

European regulators aren't shy against tech giants, explains Ives. "There's a boxing match between Silicon Valley and the EU that's getting more intense. Part of the focus has been on Apple and Microsoft, but now you're seeing stricter potential for regulatory oversight. I think part of it is, these companies need to play nice in the sandbox. They need to have an olive branch to the EU. You've seen that with Facebook and their change to the tax code and what they've done in Ireland."

According to Ives, "these companies, at this point, basically own the consumer kingdom...I don't think their core business model will change, but ... transparency and a lot more oversight around content" could be one example in extending the olive branch.

"Facebook said they're going to stop crypto advertising and bitcoin advertising, so they said if this could be an issue [for the EU] then they're going to take it off."

Also on this episode of Counting the Cost:

UK-China relations: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May has been in China this week to boost trade between the two nations as the UK looks to forge new partnerships for when it leaves the EU. But China will want to see what a final Brexit deal looks like before making any big commitments. There's a great deal at stake for both countries, as Adrian Brown reports from Beijing.

Jianwei Xu, a senior economist for Natixis in China, offers his take. 

German car scandal: In Germany, opposition MPs are demanding answers from the government about a scandal involving well-known carmakers and diesel fume tests. A research group funded by BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen reportedly exposed volunteers and monkeys to toxic exhaust gasses. VW's suspended one of its senior executives following the public outcry about the secret tests, as Dominic Kane reports from Berlin.

Thailand canal: Panama has its famous canal, the Suez canal cuts through Egypt, and now there's a plan to resurrect a 400-year-old plan for a sea link in the south of Thailand. The waterway would link the Indian Ocean and Andaman Sea, with the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea. Wayne Hay reports from Si Kao, which is home to a coastal community.

Myanmar economy: Myanmar's economic prospects with the West are at risk, after mounting international criticism over its handling of the Rohingya crisis, as Scott Heidler reports from Yangon. Recently, a top US diplomat quit the government's advisory panel after a heated exchange with Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Bill Richardson's departure shows how Aung San Suu Kyi appears to be pushing away critics - and relying on old allies for support.

Chinese medicine: Scientists in the West have long disputed the therapeutic value of traditional Chinese medicine, but it seems the ancient craft is gaining popularity at home and abroad. It's even been hailed by Xi Jinping's government as "the gem of Chinese science". Rob McBride reports from the country's biggest traditional medicine market in the city of Bozhou, where business has never been better.

Source: Al Jazeera