Australian gov passes BigTech media legislation

A highly anticipated law that forces technology companies to pay for media content has finaly been passed in Australia.

The news comes days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg held negotiations with the Australian government, which ultimately resulted in the amendment of the law.

Changes to the legislation included allowing two months for tech companies to strike private deals for news content before the government arbitrator gets involved.

The discussion took place after the social media giant blocked Australian users from viewing news content on the platform over the new law, which Facebook described as “unworkable.”

The government’s decision to amend the law has raised some concern and criticism in the UK.

Daily Mail boss Lord Rothermere accused Google and Facebook of “blackmail” as both threatened to withdraw services in Australia, and said that Australia had “surrendered.”

“Politicians everywhere have watched events in Australia with increasing alarm,” said Rothermere in a letter to The Financial Times. “Now they must ask themselves, who makes the rules?”

In a joint statement on Thursday Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg and communications minister Paul Fletcher said that the code would “ensure news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism.”

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