Facebook will probably be “weakened” in case it stops Australians from sharing information so the corporation can avoid paying for content under proposed legislation, Australia’s top antitrust regulator has said.
Australia has suggested forcing Facebook and internet search giant Google to pay local media outlets for content, drawing strong resistance from the US companies in a dispute that is being watched by regulators and news organisations around the world.
Facebook said it would prevent Australians from discussing local and global news on its site when the proposal becomes law. The company and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are still negotiating before the regulator makes a formal recommendation to the government.
“It would be a shame for Australian democracy (and) it would be a shame for Facebook users if they took that course of action,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims stated in a speech delivered via Zoom.
“It would also weaken Facebook, so it’s their call,” he added.
“If people can’t get their news from Facebook then they’ll go elsewhere to get their news.”
As conventional media outlets eliminate advertising revenue to internet giants, several countries have attempted to figure out ways to earn such businesses cover the traffic delivered to their sites. However, Sims said no model had been successful.
The proposal in Australia entails an arbitrator setting the payment provisions when an online firm can’t strike a deal with a local media outlet, a provision Facebook has stated could force it to pay infinite royalties.
A Facebook representative wasn’t immediately available to comment on Thursday. Google has said that it has struck material deals with several Australian publishers, but has issued public warnings that the law might hurt its search services.
Sims stated Australia’s strategy wasn’t a tax on Big Tech or a subsidy for some other companies, stating it was “a question of addressing a market power imbalance and one that matters to the future of our society”.
“If you had a competitive market you wouldn’t need this,” he explained.
If Facebook quit information sharing in Australia to avoid the law, the firm”may get something worse” elsewhere, Sims added.
The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘Australia regulator dares Facebook to block news content‘ article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Byron Kaye. Editing by Gerry Doyle.
To stay on top of the latest developments across the platform economy and gain access to our problem-solving tools and comprehensive content sets, you can become a member for just $7 per month.