Australia would not amend legislation that would make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content
A senior lawmaker said on Monday that Australia would not amend legislation that would make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content, as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to enact the bill into law.
In a stand-off over the law, Australia and the tech giants have been widely seen as setting a global precedent.
Other countries have also expressed an interest in taking some form of similar action, like Canada and Britain.
Facebook has been protesting the rules. In a jolt to the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the titans of the technological revolution, last week it blocked all news content and some state government and emergency department pages.
Over the weekend, talks between Australia and Facebook yielded no breakthrough.
As Australia’s senate started discussing the legislation, the top senator in the upper house of the nation said there would be no more changes.
Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio that the bill as it stands meets the correct balance.
The bill, in its current form, guarantees that Australian-generated news content can and should be paid for by Australian-generated news organizations in a fair and legal way.
If private negotiations fail, the legislation will grant the government the power to nominate an arbitrator to set rates for content licensing.
Although Google and Facebook have also protested against the legislation, Google entered into deals with top Australian outlets last week, including a global agreement with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Birmingham added that there’s no excuse Facebook can’t do and accomplish what Google already has.
On Monday, a Facebook representative refused to comment on the legislation that was passed last week by the lower house and has majority support in the Senate.
On Tuesday, a final vote after the so-called third reading of the bill is scheduled.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the lobby group DIGI, representing Facebook, Google, and other online networks such as Twitter Inc, said its members had agreed to follow an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the dissemination of online misinformation.
Under the voluntary code, they undertake, among other steps, to recognize and stop anonymous accounts or ‘bots,’ to disseminate information, to notify users of the origin of the content, and to publish an annual transparency report.