Technology

Australia: Facebook and Google could pay the media

A bill will be presented to the Australian parliament on Wednesday to force Facebook and Google to pay the media for their content.

“This is an important reform. This is a world first. And the world is watching what’s going on here in Australia, ”Australian Finance Minister Josh Frydenberg said.

He said the project, unveiled in July, would be presented to parliament on Wednesday for entry into force next year.

This “binding code of conduct” provides for “significant penalties” for violations, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

It will apply to Facebook’s “news feed” and Google searches, two of the richest and most powerful companies in the world.

Internet giants will have to compensate Australian press groups, including Australian channels ABC and SBS, initially excluded from the text.

However, the government has decided to exempt the YouTube and Instagram platforms from it.

Compared to the first draft of the bill, however, measures have been attenuated, in particular those aimed at forcing the tech giants to be transparent about the algorithms used to reveal the information flows of platforms and research results.

Mr Frydenberg said internet giants would only be forced to inform news groups of “changes” to these algorithms if there was “significant impact” on search rankings, with 14 days notice. days instead of the 28 days initially proposed.

Initially, Australia had first proposed a code of conduct on a voluntary basis, before adopting a more coercive position due to the “unequal position” in terms of negotiations between traditional media and digital platforms, preventing the conclusion of equitable agreements.

Mr Frydenberg said the two sides would still be encouraged to enter into trade deals, but if this failed it would be decided in arbitration with the force of law.

The Australian initiative is being followed closely around the world at a time when the media are suffering in a digital economy where ad revenue is increasingly captured by Facebook, Google and other big tech firms.

Facebook has warned that it could, if the law comes into effect, prevent users and Australian media from sharing information.

In a message published in August on a blog post, the general manager of the American giant for Australia and New Zealand had said that this law “ignored (emitted) the dynamics of the Internet”.

For its part, Google said that “the way Australians use Google (was) in danger”.

An Australian study that presided over these measures showed that for $ 100 spent on online advertising, Google received $ 53, Facebook $ 28 and the rest was distributed among other internet giants.

The media crisis has been compounded by the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In Australia, dozens of newspapers have been closed and hundreds of journalists fired in recent months.

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