According to the latest news, Australian lawmakers are likely to approve amendments to landmark legislation to force Alphabet’s Google and Facebook to pay media companies for news content, despite disagreement from some minor political parties.
Significantly, the government introduced amendments to the so-called Media Bargaining Code after Facebook last week intensified a dispute over the new laws by banning Australian users from sharing and viewing news content on its platform. Australia’s Senate started debating the amendments on February 24. Notably, the ruling conservative Liberal Party does not have a majority in the upper house. However, support from the opposition Labor Party is likely to be sufficient to pass the bill.
Facebook said it would restore Australian users’ access
Yesterday, Facebook announced it would restore Australian users’ access to news in light of the agreement it had reached with the government.
In one significant change, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will be given the option to decide that either Facebook or Google need not be subject to the code if they make a vital contribution to the Australian news industry’s sustainability.
The original legislation had required the large tech companies to submit to forced arbitration if they could not reach a commercial deal with Australian news companies for their content. It is effectively enabling the government to set a price.
Furthermore, some politicians are concerned the change lets Frydenberg exempt Facebook or Google from the new laws even if they do not strike deals with all media firms.
According to Rex Patrick, an independent senator, this changes the bill significantly. Notably, he plans to vote against the amended bill.
He added that the big players could successfully negotiate with Facebook or Google. Patrick announced the minister then doesn’t designate them, and all the little players miss out.
Moreover, Frydenberg has announced he would tech-giants, Facebook and Google, time to strike deals with Australian media firms before deciding whether to enforce his new powers.