Australian lawmakers agreed Friday to enable world-first legislation that will make Alphabet’s Google and Facebook pay publishers for content.
The news media code, which Google has complained is “unworkable”, makes Australia the first country to challenge the market dominance of the U.S. tech giants.
“The bill will now be considered by the parliament from the week commencing 15 February 2021,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in an emailed confirmation, Reuters reports.
As Breitbart News reported, the Australian push to rein in media companies has been months in the making and led to claim and counter-claim by Big Tech operators that making them pay for content is unfair.
Last month Google threatened to withdraw its services altogether if Canberra went ahead, prompting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to say:
We don’t respond to threats. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia.
At the same time other operators including Microsoft have been quick to offer to step in and fill the gap.
Australia joins Poland and Hungary in standing up to extreme-Left Big Tech. https://t.co/tnC0X6kJVE
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) February 1, 2021
Microsoft proposes its Bing search engine as a gap filler in Australia.
Google said Friday it had proposed amendments to Australia’s plans but they had been rejected. However, the company said it still hoped lawmakers would stop and discuss possible changes.
“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,” Lucinda Longcroft, director of government affairs and public policy for Google in Australia, told Reuters.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has undertaken to review the law a year after it took effect to “ensure it is delivering outcomes that are consistent with the government’s policy intent.”
“The government expects all parties to continue to work constructively towards reaching commercial agreements in the spirit of collaboration and good faith encouraged by the code,” he added.
Parliament is scheduled to consider the bill on Tuesday and the Morrison conservative coalition government hopes it will be approved during the coming two-week sitting.
Microsoft President Brad Smith on Friday called for the United States and the rest of the world to consider adopting similar laws as more countries push back against the market dominance of Big Tech players.
Not. Backing. Down. Hungary is following Poland in moving against Big Tech, vowing action on the "shadowbanning" of Christians, conservatives, and right-wingers. https://t.co/EYbQAB19gl
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 20, 2021
“We’ve heard from people asking whether Microsoft would support a similar proposal in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and other countries. The short answer is yes,” Smith said.
He added that since the year 2000, revenue from U.S. newsrooms had fallen by 70 percent while employment had dropped by half, with more than 2000 newspapers shuttering.
AP contributed to this story