Australia passed legislation requiring Facebook, Google to pay for news

Australia’s parliament on Thursday officially passed an effective law, effectively forcing tech titans to pay for news content following intense public opposition from Facebook and Google.

The first-of-its-kind measure approved its last hurdle when Parliament approved a set of amendments made to appease Facebook, which last week barred Australian users from viewing or sharing news articles.

Australian lawmakers said the legislation, which would come into force, would remove a “bargaining power imbalance” between tech platforms and news publishers, although its finalization gives Facebook and Google more avenues for negotiation.

Australian Treasurer Josh Friedenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said, “The code will ensure that the news media business pays considerable remuneration for the content they create, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia.” joint statement.

Officials pushed the law forward even after Facebook blackout five days of news in Australia, an unprecedented move that sparked widespread outrage.

Google threatened to shut down its search engine in Australia when the proposal became law, but the Silicon Valley giant adopted a more consensual approach to deal with publishers, including News Corp, which owns the post .

Australia's Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and Treasurer Josh Friedenberg attend a news conference on February 23, 2021 at the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.
Australia’s Minister of Communications Paul Fletcher and Treasurer Josh Friedenberg attend a news conference on 23 February 2021 at the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.
Via AAP Image / Mick Ticus / REUTERS

Facebook halted its news this week after reaching an agreement with Australian lawmakers over amendments to the law. A significant change gave Friedenberg the discretion to decide that either Facebook or Google need not be subject to the code if they “significantly contribute to the sustainability of the Australian news industry.”

Companies will have more time to negotiate with publishers before being forced into deals through arbitration, a process in which a third party will decide how much technology platforms should pay.

Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg said in a blog post this week, “The Australian government has agreed to the changes, which means fair negotiations are encouraged without the threat of heavy and unpredictable arbitration.” . “

Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission who originally drafted the legislation, said the lawmakers of the version approved, even though Tech veterans had little time to deal with publishers.

“[These] Sims said, things take time. “Google and Facebook do not have unlimited resources to talk to everyone. I think it’s got a long way to play. “

With post wires

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