Australia set to enact bill making Facebook, Google pay for news

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The proposal to require Facebook and other big tech firms to pay for news, has passed its last major parliamentary hurdle in Australia, and is now expected to become law.

Australia's Senate has passed the proposal that would see big tech companies pay for news, or be subject to binding arbitration if they cannot reach a deal with publishers. The upper chamber voted to accept the bill with the amendments agreed on following Facebook's banning of news pages in protest.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the bill will now return to the Australian parliament's lower chamber, the House of Representatives. This body previously passed the unamended version, so it is expected to agree to this edition.

The House of Representatives may vote on the bill as soon as Thursday, February 25. If passed, it will then become law once it is signed by Australia's governor-general.

Facebook agreed to resume access to news pages in the region after the government agreed to certain amendments. These included specifying a two-month period for negotiations before an arbitration process begins.

It also allows for the Australian government to effectively make an exemption for Facebook, if the social media giant can demonstrate that it has made a "significant contribution" to local journalism.

While the bill, and the controversy around it, has appeared to chiefly concentrate on Facebook and Google, it's expected to apply to all large tech firms. And it may prove to be a model that other countries and states will adopt.

 

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