US government urges Australia to force Google, Facebook to pay for news

  • Investigation of ACCC revealed that out of every A$100 of online advertising, A$19 goes to other media companies, A$28 goes to Facebook and A$53 to Google

The already troubled American tech giants Google and Facebook might have to pay for the news it features on its platform from the news media and agencies. The United States government, which is already conducting several investigations against its home-grown technology giants on grounds of illegal misconducts, has now asked the Australian authorities to scrap proposed laws to force these firms to pay for the news.

The trade representatives of the United States Karl Ehlers and Daniel Bahar submitted a request to the government to suspend plans but instead urged Australia to “further study the markets, and if appropriate, develop a voluntary code”, according to Reuters.

The current proposed law has massive political support and is now before the Senate committee to scrutinize the matter. They will decide whether Facebook and Google would go for price arbitration or not if the Australian authorities reject the payments scheme proposed by the American government. 

Reuters claims that the executive office of the President in its letter says, “The United States government is concerned that an attempt, through legislation, to regulate the competitive positions of specific players … to the clear detriment of two US firms, may result in harmful outcomes. Such a move could also raise concerns with respect to Australia’s international trade obligations”.

However, it is not only the US that is taking action against Facebook and Google, but in fact, countries like United Kingdom, Australia, and Russia have taken stern action against these firms for violation of norms. A month back, the Australian regulatory body Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has charged the social networking giant Facebook for gathering customer’s data without any consent The regulator stated that Facebook promoted a VPN for people to protect their data, but they are secretly using their information to identify targets for commercial acquisitions.

After a detailed investigation, the Australian government mentioned to its legislation that these tech giants could prove too dangerous to democracy as it gained too much power in the media domain. 

Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg in a response to the US government’s plea has said, “the government is committed to proceeding with a mandatory code” that would address “the bargaining power imbalances with digital platforms and media companies.”

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