Tech giants must pay for news in Australia | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 26, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:35 AM, February 26, 2021

Tech giants must pay for news in Australia

Parliament passes landmark media reform law; India unveils tougher rules for social media

Facebook and Google will be forced to pay for Australian news under legislation passed yesterday that is being closely watched globally for precedents in the battle between Big Tech and media companies.

The world-first law passed easily after the Australian government agreed to water down elements most fiercely opposed by the tech giants, in return for both agreeing to negotiate paid deals with local media.

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It paves the way for Google and Facebook to plough tens of millions of dollars into struggling local media companies, and could provide a model for resolving tussles with regulators worldwide.

Google has already brokered deals worth millions of dollars with Australian media companies, including the two largest: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Nine Entertainment.

A more reluctant Facebook -- which briefly slapped a site-wide ban on Australian news in protest at the law -- has inched towards a first deal with Seven West, and said more negotiations are on the way.

Facebook and Google have each said they will invest around US$1 billion in news around the world over the next three years.

For every $100 spent by Australian advertisers today, $49 goes to Google and $24 to Facebook, according to the country's competition watchdog.

Meanwhile, India yesterday announced new rules to regulate big social media firms, such as Facebook and Twitter, the latest effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to tighten control over Big Tech firms.

The rules come after Twitter ignored orders to drop content on farmers' protests, fuelling the goverment's zeal, dating from 2018, to clamp down on material it regards as disinformation or unlawful.

The new measures will require big social media companies to set up a grievance redressal mechanism and appoint executives to coordinate with law enforcement, the government said in a news statement.

The government said the guidelines in its code of digital media ethics were needed to hold social media and other companies accountable for misuse and abuse.

A detailed version of the guidelines is to be published later and take effect three months after that, the government said. It did not specify the date, however.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported the draft of the rules, which give companies a maximum of 36 hours to remove content after they receive a government or legal order.

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