Australia to make Google, Facebook pay for news; Will introduce legislation next week

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Australia will introduce its landmark legislation for Google and Facebook next week with an aim to mandate them to pay publishers and broadcasters for content, as per a senior government official’s statement.

The legislation, which Google considers as “unworkable”, will make Australia the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content and thus it is being closely watched across the world. “The bill will now be considered by the parliament from the week commencing 15 February 2021,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

With the support of bipartisan (both ruling and opposing parties), the bill is expected to be a law this month itself despite the disagreement of Google, which says the law will force it to suspend its search function in the country.

Meanwhile, Software giant Microsoft has expressed its confidence to fill the gap in Australia if Google withdrew its search functions, with its search product Bing.

Lucinda Longcroft, director of government affairs and public policy for Google in Australia and New Zealand, said the company had proposed amendments to a Senate inquiry but they were rejected. However, the tech giant still hopes to discuss the law with members of parliament.

“We look forward to engaging with policymakers through the parliamentary process to address our concerns and achieve a code that works for everyone publishers, digital platforms, and Australian businesses and users,” Ms. Longcroft said in an emailed statement.

Both Facebook and Google had earlier tried to pressurize Australia to give relaxation in the legislation, with senior executives from both companies holding talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Mr. Frydenberg.

Last week, Google launched a platform in Australia offering news it has paid for, walking out of its content deals with publishers in a drive to show the proposed legislation is unnecessary.

Earlier this year, Reuters said it had entered into a deal with Google to be the first global news provider to Google News Showcase. In addition, a French publishers’ lobby group also agreed to a copyright framework for the tech firm to pay news publishers for content online.

Also Read: Microsoft backs Facebook criticized Australian media laws; Aims to tap the opportunity