The creator of the proposed Australian laws to make Facebook and Google pay for news has announced that his draft bill will be altered to dispel some of the digital giants’ concerns, but will fundamentally remain unchanged.
The fair trade regulator of Australia and chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Rod Sims said that he would give his final draft of the laws to make Facebook and Google pay Australian media organizations for the news content they use by early October.
Sims further said that he is discussing the draft of his bill with the US social media platforms. The bill could be introduced into Parliament in late October.
On the issue, Facebook has warned it might block Australian news content rather than pay for it. Google said the proposed laws would result in worse Google Search and YouTube, put free services at risk, and could also lead to users’ data being handed over to big news businesses.
During a webinar hosted by The Australia Institute, an independent think-tank Sims said, “Google has got concerns about it, some of it is that they just don’t like it, others are things that we’re happily going to engage with them on.”
Sims said that among the concerns is a fear that under the News Media Bargaining Code, news businesses will be able to control their algorithms. He also said that there’s nothing in the code that forces Google or Facebook to share the data from individuals.
Sims was not ready to negotiate the core of the code, which he said hold the code together, that makes it workable.
He added, “We’ll make changes to address some of those issues — not all, but some.”
He also said, “We’ll engage with them and clarify that so that there’s no way that the news media businesses can interfere with the algorithms of Google or Facebook.”
He also clarified that the platforms would not have to disclose more data about users than they already share.
Countries like Spain and France and have both failed to make Facebook and Google pay for news through copyright law. However, Sims said that he has spoken about Australia’s approach as per fair trading laws to regulators in the US and Europe.
If any platform or news outlet can’t reach an agreement on price money, an arbitrator would be appointed to make a binding decision.