US bill to help ‘small news orgs negotiate with BigTech companies’

A new bill could be passed in the US that would make it easier for smaller news organisations to negotiate with BigTech companies like Google and Facebook, according to a Reuters report.

Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, told the news organisation that the panel would bring out a number of antitrust bills, the first being legislation that would allow smaller news organisations to negotiate collectively with BigTech players.

The news comes as Australia awaits the passing of legislation that would force tech giants to pay for media content.

On Thursday Facebook confirmed it had blocked news stories for Australian users.

At the time, William Easton, managing director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand said: “The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.

He added: "It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

While Facebook chose to block users, on Wednesday it was revealed a number of Australian media companies had secured lucrative deals with Google worth $47 million, despite the company threatening to cancel services in Australia last month.

On Friday Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said that he would “press ahead” with the new law and that he had received support from world leaders after Facebook blocked users.

Buck told Reuters that the expected legislation would be similar to a 2019 bill co-sponsored by panel chair Republican David Cicilline which would have enabled smaller publishers to join forces to negotiate tech giants like Facebook and Google without experiencing any antitrust scrutiny.

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