'Inevitable' Google and Facebook will pay for Australian news, treasurer says

Josh Frydenberg says tech companies’ threats to pull services out of Australia did them a ‘big disservice’

Josh Frydenberg has warned the internet giants it is “inevitable” they will pay for news content and their threats to shut down core functions in Australia do them a “big disservice”.

At a doorstop on Sunday, the treasurer said the Morrison’s government intended to become a “world leader” in regulating social media and search companies, who he accused of shifting the goalposts in their opposition to the proposed bargaining code of conduct.

Google and Facebook are both fighting against legislation currently before the parliament that would force them to enter into negotiations with news media companies for payment for content, with an arbiter to ultimately decide the payment amount if no agreement can be reached.

On Friday, the pair escalated the dispute by threatening to remove the Google search engine from Australia and Facebook to remove news from the Facebook feeds of all Australian users.

The threats follow the revelation that Google has been experimenting with hiding some Australian news sites from search results, in a move media outlets said was a show of “extraordinary power”.

Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne the government had worked with the Australian competition regulator for two years developing the code to “see the digital giants pay for original content that is generated by our media businesses”.

Frydenberg accused the tech companies of “changing the goalposts” by first opposing the government’s proposal of final offer arbitration and now opposing paying for clicks on media content displayed in search results.

He said “if the clicks for media content is such a small proportion of their overall clicks on the search” that would be reflected in the payment determined by the independent arbiter.

Frydenberg noted the government’s position was supported by media companies and public polling, after a Dynata poll conducted for the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology found that four in five respondents found it “disturbing” that Australian results could be removed from news feeds.

“It seems that digital giants did themselves a big disservice last week when they very openly and publicly threatened the Australian public with pulling out of Australia effectively with search if legislation proceeds as it currently stands,” Frydenberg said.

The treasurer said crossbenchers and the Australian Greens had spoken in [ … ]

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4 months ago

… and this news will be censored because of the violation of community standards!

4 months ago

Do people actually think they NEED Facebook or Google to read their news?

The only thing you do by allowing these companies to control the news you see is to allow them to control what you think

slide ruler
4 months ago

A “code of conduct” for Google and Facebook? I love it! Sounds like the Aussies are forming their own ‘community standards.’ Take that, you Big Tech oligarchs!

new age
4 months ago

It’s frankly time for social media companies to have their oligarchy quashed. Let them pay!

4 months ago

Google search is awful now, I don’t even use it anymore. People are slowly waking up to this fact.

Tag Lady
4 months ago

Nice to know Australians have a set of big hairy balls. Good on ya mates.

4 months ago

Let Google withdraw its search engine in Australia. Perhaps then the Australians can be convinced to use a more neutral search engine like DuckDuckGo. 

Polly Prepper
4 months ago

Australia is asking Google to ‘Pay to Play’, you know: something Google has always insisted that every user do on their monopolized platform.
Payback time!



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