Facebook said that if the government continues to enforce a law to force Australia and Alphabet’s Google to pay local media organizations for displaying its content on its platforms, it will prevent news sharing on Australian platforms.

This is by far the biggest challenge in the world, and it is the biggest challenge faced by American tech giants in the way they use news on some of the largest websites in the world.

What does the proposed legislation say?

  • The draft law states that Australian news media can negotiate individually or collectively with Facebook and Google for payment for content used on technology company websites. If you think other technology companies are big enough, you can add them.
  • If the two parties cannot reach an agreement, the arbitrator will decide whose proposal is more reasonable. If Facebook or Google violates any resulting agreement, it may face a civil fine of up to 10 million Australian dollars (about 540 million rupees).
  • The draft also requires technology companies to notify the media when they change search algorithms in a way that affects the order in which content appears. They must also share the use of consumer data extracted from site news content.
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission began investigating “large technology” in 2017 and seeking feedback on the draft until August 28. It now hopes to work with the government and industry to redraft the law before it is passed.
  • Although Internet and media companies have struggled in other jurisdictions (especially in Germany) for copyright in news clips and other projects published by Google, the Australian proposal represents the broadest reform.
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Why propose laws?

  • In recent years, traditional media companies operating in Australia have suffered a huge blow in terms of revenue sources such as subscriptions and advertising. The competition regulator said that in Australia, for every 100 Australian dollars (about 5400 rupees) spent on online advertising, excluding classified ads, nearly a third went to Google and Facebook.
  • Last year, the regulator issued a report stating that news media lacked bargaining power when negotiating compensation for content posted on online platforms with digital companies. It says this is a problem because those same publishers rely on Facebook and Google to attract many consumers.
  • The government wants tech giants to comply with voluntary codes. Citing the lack of progress in the discussion, it decided earlier this year that legislation was necessary.

How did it respond?

  • News Corp’s local department is the main supporter of the bill. It is partly blamed on technology companies closing dozens of headers earlier this year.

  • Facebook and Google said they helped the media connect with consumers, increase subscriptions, and charge advertisers more. Facebook said that in the first five months of 2020, it sent 2.3 billion “clicks” to Australian news sites through articles that appeared on Facebook user pages, valued at approximately A$200 million (approximately Rs 10.78 billion). Google has said that it will pay for content, although no major media organization agrees to its terms.

  • Australia has previously engaged in long battles with large companies. In 2012, the then center-left government became the first government in the world to ban cigarette companies from using the design on their packaging to attract consumers. Tobacco companies faced legal challenges, but the court eventually upheld the law.

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© Thomson Reuters 2020


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