Australia Commits To Content Law Despite Facebook News Blackout

PUBLISHED: Mon, 22 Feb 2021 08:28:25 GMT
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 18: In this photo illustration reports on Facebook’s news ban on Australian and International content on February 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Facebook has banned publishers an users in Australia from posting it sharing news content as the Australian government prepares to pass laws that will require social media companies to pay news publishers for sharing using content on their platforms. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

CAPE TOWN, February 19 (ANA) – Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed to apply laws to Facebook that force the social media giant to pay publishers for their media content.

In its dispute with the Australian authorities over paying for content, Facebook blocked all media content in Australia on Thursday.

Facebook not only blocked domestic and foreign news outlets for Australians, but also removed state government and emergency department accounts.

The proposed Media Bargaining Bill is designed to address a power imbalance between social media giants and publishers, whereby Facebook and Google are scooping up the majority of the advertising revenue. Australian publishers have complained that it is not a level playing field.

The bill includes negotiation safety, which allows for news outlets to negotiate commercial deals with Facebook and Google for news content used, and to prevent the tech sites from dominating the negotiations.

According to the Straits Times, if an agreement can’t be reached, an arbitrator will decide on the most reasonable offer. And, if the social media platforms were to break the agreement, they would face an US$7.8 million penalty.

“There is a lot of world interest in what Australia is doing. That is why I invite Facebook to constructively engage because they know that what Australia will do here is likely to be followed by many other Western jurisdictions,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

Morrison added that the leaders of Britain, France, Canada and India were backing them and would adopt the same approach.

The proposed legislation will initially apply to Facebook and Google, but authorities said it is likely other big tech firms will be added to it as well.

“Facebook was wrong, Facebook’s actions were unnecessary, they were heavy-handed, and they will damage its reputation here in Australia,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a news conference on Thursday.

“There is something much bigger here at stake than just one or two commercial deals. This is about Australia’s sovereignty,” he said.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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