Australia won't alter measure making Facebook, Google pay news outlets for content
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Country's minister of finance says bill 'meets the right balance'
CANBERRA - Australia will not alter legislation that would make Facebook
and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker
said on Monday, as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to pass the
bill into law.
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Australia and the tech giants have been in a stand-off over the
legislation widely seen as setting a global precedent.
Other countries including Canada and Britain have already expressed
interest in taking some sort of similar action.CANADA TO FOLLOW AUSTRALIA
AND TAKE ON FACEBOOK, SEEKING PAYMENT FOR CONTENT
Facebook has protested the laws. Last week it blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts, in a jolt to
the global news industry, which has already seen its business model
upended by the titans of the technological revolution.
Talks between Australia and Facebook over the weekend yielded no
As Australia’s senate began debating the legislation, the country’s most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further
“The bill as it stands ... meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio.
The bill in its present form ensures “Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organisations can and should be paid for and
done so in a fair and legitimate way.”
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The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to
set content licencing fees if private negotiations fail.
While both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google
last week 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,” Birmingham added.
A Facebook representative declined to comment on Monday on the
legislation, which passed the lower house last week and has majority
support in the Senate.
A final vote after the so-called third reading of the bill is expected on Tuesday.
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Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google and other online
platforms like Twitter Inc, meanwhile said on Monday that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.
Under the voluntary code, they 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.
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