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Tags Current Affairs

Australian government’s issue with Google and Facebook

Date: 10 September 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

 Facebook has threatened to block Australia’s publishers and individuals from sharing news stories on the platform as the government plans to impose tax on media platform that share link to new reports.

 

Background

Poor advertising revenues have forced over 200 news organisations in Australia to close temporarily or permanently shut down.

 

Details

  • Following an inquiry, which found that platforms such as Google and Facebook were bagging too large a share of the online advertising profits from media organizations in Australia, the government proposed the draft News Media Bargaining Code law.

  • The code urges tech giants Google and Facebook to pay for Australian news content that appears on their news feed and searches.

  • If implemented, it will allow media firms to negotiate a price for their content with the digital services, and if the two parties do not agree to an amount, arbitrators would be appointed to take a call.

  • The legislation also calls upon Facebook and Google to notify news companies in case of a change of algorithms – which could decide which stories appear on top of a search – with penalties of up to 10% of a platform’s annual turnover in case of non-compliance.

  • The code has been backed by all major news firms including News Corp Australia, the country’s largest conglomerate, Nine Entertainment, and Guardian Australia, among others.

  • Facebook has argued that news reports make up “only a fraction” of what the platform’s users get in their feeds, and that it is already driving a large amount to traffic to news websites.

  • Google has claimed that the law is skewed in favour of big media companies and will end up giving them “special treatment”, and “encourage them to make enormous and unreasonable demands that would put our free services at risk”.

  • The European Union introduced new online copyright rules to help news publishers and tech giants strike deals for sharing content.

  • In France, where the legislation was first implemented, Google did not agree to pay publishers, and said instead that they would only display thumbnail images of stories if provided to them for free, leaving many news firms disappointed. In Germany too, the company has adopted the same policy.

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