Australian lawmakers are expected to amend Facebook, Google Law

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Australian lawmakers are expected to approve amendments to the sign legislation to force Alphabet’s Google and Facebook to pay media companies for news content, despite opposition from some minor political parties.

The government introduced amendments to the so-called Code of Media Negotiation after Facebook last week, a dispute over the new laws escalated by blocking Australian consumers from sharing and viewing news on their popular social media platform. The Australian Senate began debating the changes on Wednesday. The ruling Conservative Liberal Party does not have a majority in the upper house, but support from the opposition Labor Party is expected to be enough to pass the bill.

Facebook on Tuesday said he would recover Australian consumers’ access to news in the light of the compromise reached with the government.

With one big change, Australian cashier Josh Friedenberg will get the right to decide whether Facebook or Google they should not comply with the code if they contribute “significantly to the sustainability of the Australian news industry”.

Initial legislation required technology giants to be subject to forced arbitration if they failed to reach a trade deal with Australian news companies for their content, which effectively allowed the government to set a price.

Some politicians are concerned that the change allows Frydenberg to exempt Facebook or Google from the new laws, even if they do not make deals with all media companies.

“This changes the bill significantly,” independent Sen. Rex Patrick, who plans to vote against the amended bill, told Reuters. “The big players could successfully negotiate with Facebook or Google. Then the minister doesn’t appoint them and all the small players miss.”

Friedenberg said he would give Facebook and Google time to make deals with Australian media companies before deciding whether to impose their new powers.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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