Australia: Facebook wants to unblock news sites – digital


The Australian government has reached an agreement with Facebook in the dispute over media content on the platform. The Internet giant will unblock Australian news sites on its network in the coming days, said Chancellor of the Exchequer Josh Frydenberg.

A few days ago, Facebook had blocked news pages on its platform for Australian users. Since then, they have no longer been able to share national or international journalistic content. The company was protesting against a bill by the Australian government to force Google and Facebook to pay local media companies if they distribute their content on the platforms.

Australia wants to achieve that advertising revenue is distributed more fairly. The dispute had escalated in the past few days. The government announced on Monday that it would withdraw planned advertisements on Facebook.

After days of negotiations with Facebook, the government under Prime Minister Scott Morrison has now agreed to make changes to the planned law.

The ombudsman is supposed to be a “last resort”

Among other things, Google and Facebook are given more time to negotiate with local media companies how much they will pay for their content before a state ombudsman should decide if there is no agreement. The digital corporations had fiercely resisted its jurisdiction. With the changes to the proposed law, the ombudsman is now referred to as a “last resort”. Google has already reached an agreement with several Australian publishers.

This ombudsman has to inform the platforms under what circumstances they are affected by the new law. This decision must take into account “whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry” by entering into commercial agreements with news companies. More precise details were initially not known.

“These changes will give digital platforms and news media more clarity about how the law should be applied and strengthen the framework for companies in the news media sector to be fairly remunerated,” the government said.

Facebook welcomed the agreement in a statement. They are satisfied that the Australian government has approved a number of changes. The law is expected to be passed by parliament this week. Treasurer Frydenberg also announced that the government would again advertise on Facebook.

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