Australian Bill Forcing Google, Facebook to Pay Publishers Moves Forward with 'Minor Amendments'
A proposed bill in the Australian parliament that would require Facebook and Google to pay news outlets for content has cleared its final hurdle, and Facebook has agreed to restore access to news pages in the country after the government agreed to small changes to the legislation.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Australian legislation that would require Facebook and Google to pay news publishers for access to their content has cleared its final .major parliamentary hurdle. Breitbart News recently reported that Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, discussed the bill with Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio, stating: “The bill as it stands … meets the right balance.” Now it seems the government of Australia and the Masters of the Universe have agreed to minor amendments to the legislation and Facebook has dropped its blanket censorship of the Australian news media.
Birmingham added that the bill 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”.
While the tech giants have protested the bill, last week Google signed a deal with top Australian outlets including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Birmingham commented: “There’s no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has.”
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.
The Wall Street Journalreports that Facebook has agreed to restore access to news pages in the country after the government agreed to small changes to the legislation. The amendments include requiring an additional round of negotiation before binding arbitration takes effect as well as more acknowledgment of any deals Facebook reaches with publishers independently.
The Australian Senate passed the legislation with the Facebook amendments late on Wednesday. It will now return to the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, for a vote as early as Thursday. The code will become law when it is signed by Australia’s governor-general, the representative of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Australia’s head of state.
Interestingly, even some of Facebook’s own previous employees have welcomed the recent Australian bill and the effect it may have on global tech regulation.
Facebook’s former chief in Australia, Stephen Scheeler, told BBC Radio 4: “I’ve come around to the view that the scale, size and influence of these platforms, particularly on our minds, our brains, and all the things that we do as citizens, as consumers, are just so powerful that leaving them in the hands of a few, very closely controlled companies like Facebook is the recipe for disaster.”