Australia Passes New Media Law

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Facebook and Google get new restrictions in Australia.

Around the world, social media is a medium that nearly every nation uses. Social media has many purposes; it connects old friends, shares entertaining videos, and updates individuals with the news. Every country has different restrictions on the usage of social media and Australia recently changed things up. 

Australia has passed a new law that will require digital platforms like Facebook and Google to pay local media outlets and publishers to link their content on news feeds or in search results. Australian regulators have focused on tech giants such as Facebook and Google for their online advertising dominance and their impact on struggling news media. These changes were anticipated and were put into effect days after the government introduced some last-minute amendments to the bill, known officially as the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. 

“The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” according to a statement of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher shared by CNBC News.

A statement put out by Facebook in Australia. Photo derived from DW.com

Both Facebook and Google have fought against the law since last year. Australia will become the first country where a government-appointed arbitrator can decide on the final price that either platform will have to pay Australian news publishers.

“Tweaks to the law were made after Facebook blocked access to Australian news outlets on its pages,” according to The Indian Express. 

Despite the battle between Australia’s regulators and the tech companies, the law was passed and is in effect. As a result of this law being passed, it is believed that it may influence other countries to implement laws similar to this. While other countries have observed the interactions of tech giants and news media, Australia is now the first country where a government arbitrator effectively sets the rates that tech giants must pay if their negotiations with media companies are unsuccessful.