Australia’s controversial media code aiming at Google and Facebook is now law

Australia's controversial media code targeting Google and Facebook is now law

The Australian Parliament has passed a controversial new law requiring Google and Facebook to pay Australian media for linking to and sharing news content they publish.

Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s treasurer, said the adoption of the news media negotiating code was “an important milestone” and that “this legislation will help to level the playing field and ensure Australian news media companies are paid for generating original content.”

A joint statement by Frydenberg and Australian Communications Secretary Paul Fletcher said the code “provides a framework for good faith negotiations between the parties and for a fair and balanced arbitration process to resolve pending disputes.”

The Morrison government’s news media bargaining code has just been passed by parliament. This legislation contributes to a level playing field and ensures that Australian news media companies are paid for generating original content. @PaulFletcherMP pic.twitter.com/33bQbiqeMIF Feb 24, 2021

The new law was drafted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a consumer watchdog, and aims primarily to resolve what the ACCC calls a “significant bargaining imbalance” between Australian news companies and the technology giants.

At least one tech giant is delighted that the media code is passing through the Australian parliament – Microsoft president Brad Smith tweeted that the new law is “a big step forward.”

“It helps ensure that publishers and journalists get a fairer share of their work. Australia has shown what is possible and other democracies around the world can build on their ideas, ”he said.

The code should be revised in a year to ensure that the policy has been effective.

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