Australia’s Parliament on Thursday, Feb. 25, passed a world-first law for tech giants such as Facebook and Google to pay local publishers for news content after days earlier Facebook took steps to ban certain content in Australia in response to the government’s proposed regulations.
As reported by Bloomberg News, the proposed media payment law under the News Media Bargaining Code ensures that “news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate.”
“The code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.
Bargaining code limits Big Tech
The new measure could reverberate globally and pose a serious challenge to the monopoly of tech giants as regulators watch the impact of Australia’s new law as they grapple with the advertising dominance of Facebook and Google.
Recently Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault announced that Canada expects to implement measures similar to those taken by Australia as he called Facebook’s efforts to ban news sites by way of complaint against the Australian code “highly irresponsible.”
According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Facebook’s response to block content “only confirms the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behavior of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.”
Morison also made it known days ago that the determinations made to regulate the tech giants were also shared with the leaders of India, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.
Regarding the last-minute talks between the Australian government and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, they agreed to amend the legislation and bring back news content.
For now, both the government and Facebook are free to adjust key concessions. If the government decides that the companies’ contribution to the local news industry is acceptable they will not be designated by law, and if the government decides to enforce the code, the companies will be notified a month in advance, and likewise have ample time to agree with media publishers, according to Bloomberg News.
Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said the changes mean “fair negotiations are encouraged without the looming threat of heavy-handed and unpredictable arbitration.”
Meanwhile, Google has struck deals with the Australian government independently in which it has agreed to pay a number of media publishers for news stories.
According to Frydenberg, the “government is pleased to see progress by both Google and more recently Facebook in reaching commercial arrangements with Australian news media businesses.”
Frydenberg added that the implementation of the code is a “world first” as it is the first time it has been established by law for technology giants to compensate news publishers for displaying their content on their sites.