Australia to amend law making Facebook, Google pay for news

FILE - This combination of file photos shows a Google sign and the Facebook app. Global digital platforms The author of proposed Australian laws to make Facebook and Google pay for journalism said Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Australia, his draft legislation will be altered to allay some of the digital giants concerns, but remain fundamentally unchanged. (AP Photo/File) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CANBERRA – The author of proposed Australian laws to make Facebook and Google pay for journalism said Thursday his draft legislation will be altered to allay some of the digital giants’ concerns, but remain fundamentally unchanged.

Australia’s fair trade regulator Rod Sims, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said he would give his final draft of the laws to make Facebook and Google pay Australian media companies for the news content they use by early October.

Facebook has warned it might block Australian news content rather than pay for it.

Google has said the proposed laws would result in “dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube,” put free services at risk and could lead to users’ data “being handed over to big news businesses.”

Sims said he is discussing the draft of his bill with the U.S. social media platforms. It could be introduced into Parliament in late October.

“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 told a webinar hosted by The Australia Institute, an independent think-tank.

“We’ll make changes to address some of those issues -- not all, but some,” Sims said.

Among the concerns is a fear that under the so-called News Media Bargaining Code, news businesses “will be able to somehow control their algorithms,” Sims said.