Despite vocal opposition from the Big Tech firms, Australia will not change proposed laws that would make American giants like Google and Facebook pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker confirmed.
Facebook has strongly protested the laws and had abruptly blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts recently. The social media giant and Australian leaders continued discussing the changes over the past few days.
But with the bill scheduled for a debate in the Senate, Australia’s most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further amendments. “The bill as it stands meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, said. The bill in its present form ensures “Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organizations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way,” he added.
The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to set content licensing fees if private negotiations fail.
Though both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google recently inked deals with top Australian outlets, including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. “There’s no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has,” Mr. Birmingham added.
Meanwhile the law group which represents Facebook, Google and other online platforms like Twitter, said that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.
Under the voluntary code, the companies commit to identifying and stopping unidentified accounts, or “bots”, disseminating content, informing users of the origins of content, and publishing an annual transparency report, among other measures.