Australia to pass landmark rules against Google and Facebook

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Australia is on course to become the first country to require Google and Facebook to pay for news as Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s Treasurer, asserted that the country will introduce landmark legislation to force Alphabet’s Google and Facebook to pay publishers and broadcasters for content next week.

In an e-mailed statement, Frydenberg said that “the bill will now be considered by the parliament from the week commencing 15 February 2021.”

With bipartisan support, the legislation – which Google says is “unworkable” and will force it to pull out of the country altogether – could come into law this month.

The acceleration of the bill came as a senate committee examining the proposals recommended no amendments.

The U.S. search and social media giants have pressed Australia to soften the legislation, with senior executives from both companies holding talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Frydenberg.

Google last week launched a platform in Australia offering news it has paid for, striking its own content deals with publishers in a drive to show the proposed legislation is unnecessary.

Google and a French publishers’ lobby also agreed in January to a copyright framework for the tech firm to pay news publishers for content online, a first for Europe.

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