Australia passed “News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code”

The parliament of Australia has passed the landmark legislation called the “News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code” on February 25, 2021.

Highlights

  • This legislation mandates the global digital platforms to pay for publishing the Australian news content on their respective platforms.
  • The legislation mainly targets Facebook and Google.
  • The law easily passed the tech giants (Facebook and Google) signed agreements with the government to pay Australian news organisations.
  • The agreement was signed in order to avoid the tough mandatory bargaining rules under the new regulation.
  • This legislation will ensure that news businesses “are fairly paid for their content”. It will also help in sustaining the “Public Interest Journalism” in the country.

Background

The Parliament in Australia had proposed this legislation targeting Google and Facebook. Under this legislation, they are required to make payment negotiations with the media companies in order to use their content.  However, Facebook & Google had pointed out that these media industry were already benefiting from the traffic routed to their websites through these digital platforms.

Facebook’s Stand

Facebook stated that this legislation will cause “unmanageable levels of financial risks as well as the operational risk” for them. Following this, Facebook also blocked the Australian users from reading and sharing local and international news on its platform, recently.  Facebook initiated this move against the legislation and stated that this law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between Facebook and publishers who share news content using the platform.

Google’s Stand

Google already started to ink agreements on the revenue-sharing with the publishers.

Similar International Legislation

The Parliament of France had passed the legislation called the “GAFA Tax” (acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) in 2019. This legislation was passed in a bid to impose a 3% levy on sales which is generated in the country by non-tax paying online giants. Similarly, the European Union passed the “Digital Services Act” and “Digital Markets Act” that seeks to limit the powers of global tech giants such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon in the European market. Under it, the larger firms have been designated as ‘digital gatekeepers’ and they are subject to strict regulations in case they violate the market norms.

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