Facebook and Google have strongly opposed any move forcing them to share advertising revenue Photo: AFP/File

Australia unveils law forcing tech giants to pay for news


Australia unveiled a draft law Friday to force Google and Facebook to pay news media for their content in a "world-leading" initiative sure to prompt a confrontation with the digital giants.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the "mandatory code of conduct" to govern relations between the struggling news industry and the tech firms after 18 months of negotiations failed to bring the two sides together.

In addition to payment for content, the code covers issues like access to user data, transparency of algorithms and ranking of content in the platforms' news feeds and search results.

Frydenberg said legislation implementing the code would be introduced into parliament in August and include "substantial penalties" that could cost the tech companies hundreds of millions of dollars.

While the code will eventually apply to any digital platform using Australian news content, Frydenberg said it would initially focus on Facebook and Google, two of the world's richest and most powerful companies.

Australia's initiative has been closely watched around the globe as news media worldwide have suffered in an increasingly digital economy where advertising revenue is overwhelmingly captured by Facebook, Google and other big tech firms.

The news industry crisis has been exacerbated by the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with dozens of Australian newspapers closed and hundreds of journalists sacked in recent months.

Facebook and Google have strongly opposed any move forcing them to share advertising revenue, hinting they could simply boycott Australian media if mandatory payments are imposed.

But Frydenberg warned that the code would prohibit any "discrimination" against Australian media by the tech companies.

"Today's draft legislation will draw the attention of many regulatory agencies and many governments around the world," Frydenberg said during a news conference, calling the proposed law "world-leading".

"It's about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it's about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection, and a sustainable media landscape.

"Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake with these changes."

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Waiting for the yellow crested rooster to blow a gasket over this and threaten Australia with yuge tariffs on something.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It’s a good idea. Someone needs to hold these giants accountable for their monopoly over so called news for the, shall we say, less discerning news consumers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Think this a bad way about doing things. Forcing a Facebook to pay for content and also monitor news content sets up a situation where Facebook could be better off setting up a news division. If Oz media wants the money just take all sharing quick links off their site and a copyright claim anything posted. That, or paywall everything.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Well if it goes like the UK and EU Australians are about to find out their news search choices radically cut. This may also affect what they can see on platforms like YouTube.

Several prominent YouTube news information, creators now block UK and EU views because of similar action in those places.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is long overdue. There's absolutely nothing wrong with telling them to pay for the content they suck into their platforms. If they have to form their own news divisions, they'll have to pay anyway. Six of one, half a dozen of another.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Im really interested in how this would turn out.

I don't think these tech giants would share their revenue or pay for content.

Otherwise news media outlets from other countries will follow suit so these tech giants will be sharing their revenue to media outlets of all countries they have presence on

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The CCP has its hands in the pockets of most Media Globally, so is effectively controlling what we end of reading. If we have to them pay for that, we're essentially paying the CCP to continue ad-infinitum.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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