Australia pushed to drop law targeting tech giants - Mobile World Live

Australia pushed to drop law targeting tech giants

19 JAN 2021

The US government called for Australia to drop a proposed law designed to ensure digital platforms including Facebook and Google agree reasonable payment for accessing local news content.

In a submission made last week to the Australian Senate committee reviewing the law, the Office of US Trade Representative expressed concern over the competitive impact on the US companies. It called for Australia to drop attempts to legislate in favour of a voluntary code developed in “an open and transparent process”.

Australia’s plan was taken before parliament in early December 2020 following an 18-month review by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Broadly, it aims to ensure Google and Facebook strike deals with local publishers for their content or face an arbitration process to determine an appropriate fee.

The US argued probing specific breaches of laws might be appropriate, but said Australia’s plan “seems premature without further study and input”.

In a separate submission, the US Chamber of Commerce noted the planned law doesn’t lay out “objective criteria” on which companies are covered by the code, and criticised the planned arbitration process.

The Australian Senate committee received 32 submissions.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Reuters the government is committed to moving ahead with the mandatory code.

Facebook previously threatened to block sharing of news on its services, while Google warned of harm to search results and free services.

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Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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