Australia report says make Google and Facebook pay for news

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FILE - In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the Facebook logo on a screen at Nasdaq in Time Square, New York. Australias Parliament will debate making Google and Facebook pay for news after a Senate committee on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 recommended no changes to the world-first draft laws. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

CANBERRA – Australia’s Parliament will debate making Google and Facebook pay for news after a Senate committee on Friday recommended no changes to drafts of the world’s first such laws.

The Senate Economics Legislation Committee has been scrutinizing the bill since it was introduced in Parliament in December.

The senators rejected Facebook and Google’s arguments that the so-called media bargaining code, which would force the digital giants to negotiate payment to Australian news media for the news content to which the platforms link, was unworkable.

But the committee also recognized that the legislation carried risks and should be reviewed after a year.

“The committee accepts that there remains the possibility that not all risks have been taken into account, and that further refinement may be needed to the arbitration mechanism and other parts of the code so that they work in an optimum manner," the report said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said his department would review the law a year after it took effect to “ensure it is delivering outcomes that are consistent with the government’s policy intent."

“The government expects all parties to continue to work constructively towards reaching commercial agreements in the spirit of collaboration and good faith encouraged by the code,” he added.

Parliament is scheduled to consider the bill on Tuesday and the conservative government hopes it will be approved during the next two-week sitting.