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  • Caspar James - Tech Journalist

New law in Australia will require Facebook and Google to pay for news content

With the passing of a new federal law in Australia, tech companies will now have to pay publishers for any news content displayed on their platforms. This comes a week after Australians were prevented from displaying news links on their Facebook accounts, meaning that they were unable to see or share content published online from news outlets.

The new law passed in the Australian parliament on 25th February, "will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate" Josh Frydenberg, the Australian Treasurer said in a statement. For the last few months Facebook and Google have been opposed to the initial version of the new legislation, which would have meant that news outlets could negotiate whether content could be displayed on their platforms.

In opposition of the new law, Facebook had shut down news pages until changes were made to the new code, including the provision that "must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses".

Facebook, in the meantime, had been in discussions with Australia's main news company Seven West Media to agree to show its news content. Google had also been talking to Australian media companies Seven and News Corp, to reach a similar content agreement.

So, the new law passed on Thursday now means that tech companies must pay for any news content displayed on their platforms in Australia. We wait to see if there are any plans to extend this to other parts of the globe.

The British Culture Secretary Oliver Downden, has warned Sir Nick Clegg, Facebook's communications chief, not to turn off newsfeeds in the UK by repeating what happened in Australia. Ministers 'won't shy away from intervening to protect the interests of the public' if needed, as the British government looks at ways to improve competition within the digital market.

Now, more than ever, the public needs access to newsfeeds on social media platforms, especially during the current pandemic.





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