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World Agreement between Australia and Facebook, which will lift its blockade

09:35  23 february  2021
09:35  23 february  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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Australia ’s prime minister on Friday urged Facebook to lift its blockade of Australian users and return to the negotiating table with news publishing businesses, warning that other countries would follow his government’s example in making digital giants pay for journalism. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Facebook ’s move Thursday to prevent Australians accessing and sharing news as a threat. The blockade has escalated a fight with the government over whether powerful tech companies should have to pay news organizations for content.

Australia ’s prime minister on Friday urged Facebook to lift its blockade of Australian users and return to the negotiating table with news publishing businesses, warning that other countries would follow his government’s example in making digital giants pay for journalism. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Facebook ’s move Thursday to prevent Australians accessing and sharing news as a threat. The blockade has escalated a fight with the government over whether powerful tech companies should have to pay news organizations for content.

AUSTRALIA-MEDIA-FACEBOOK: Agreement between Australia and Facebook, which will lift its

AUSTRALIE: ACCORD ENTRE LE GOUVERNEMENT ET FACEBOOK, QUI VA LEVER SON BLOCAGE blockage © Reuters / DADO RUVIC AUSTRALIA: AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND FACEBOOK , WHO WILL LIFT ITS BLOCK

by Colin Packham and Byron Kaye

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Facebook to restore news coverage in Australia after government proposed to amend bill intended to force digital giants to pay news groups for their content, Treasury Secretary Josh Frydenberg said on Tuesday.

Canberra and the American social network had been in conflict for more than a week after the government introduced a text challenging the dominance of Facebook and Google to protect local news groups. In response, Facebook blocked all content from the media and several government agencies on Thursday.

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  Australia's fire services, charities and politicians blocked in Facebook's chaotic news ban Fire and emergency services. Domestic violence charities. State health agencies. © Robert Cianflone/Getty Images A message is seen on Facebook mobile, on February 18, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Facebook has banned publishers and users in Australia from posting and sharing news content as the Australian government prepares to pass laws that will require social media companies to pay news publishers for sharing or using content on their platforms.

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia ’s prime minister on Friday urged Facebook to lift its ban on news access for Australian users and return to the negotiating table with media organizations, warning that other countries would follow his government’s example in making digital giants pay for journalism. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Facebook ’s move Thursday to prevent Australians from accessing and sharing news as a threat. The blockade has escalated a fight with the government over whether powerful tech companies should have to pay news organizations for content.

Facebook has confirmed it ’ s lifting the news blackout, stating that Canberra “has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address” its “core concerns,” namely the value Facebook says it provides to news publishers. Facebook had been stuck at an impasse with Canberra for more than a week following the passage of the media code, which would have forced the firm to pay media outlets for content shared on the platform. While the company insisted it already provided billions in free traffic to the news sites, the new code would have compelled it to fork over the money regardless, prompting

An agreement was however reached between the two camps after series of exchanges between Josh Frydenberg and the boss of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.

Australia will propose four amendments to the bill, including one concerning the arbitration mechanism to set the equivalent of a royalty when the digital giants fail to reach a direct agreement with the news organizations for the dissemination of the contents thereof.

"We are pleased that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our primary concerns about trade agreements that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers versus the value we receive from them", Facebook said in a statement posted online.

The amendments provide that digital giants and media groups have a two-month mediation period before the intervention of a government conciliator, thus giving the two parties more time to reach a private agreement.

The Technology 202: Facebook's ban on Australian news triggers greater scrutiny of its vast power

  The Technology 202: Facebook's ban on Australian news triggers greater scrutiny of its vast power Rep. David Cicilline, who led a 16-month investigation into competition in the tech industry, called the moves 'the ultimate admission of monopoly power.' Facebook’s decision to block the posting and sharing of Australian news highlights the platform's vast influence over the media industry, raising the stakes in global regulators’ efforts to address its power.

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia ’s government announced on Tuesday that Facebook has agreed to lift its ban on Australians sharing news after a deal was struck on legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed in statements that they had reached agreement on amendments to proposed legislation that would make the social network and Google pay for news that they feature. Facebook blocked Australian users from accessing and sharing news last week after the House of Representatives passed the draft law late Wednesday.

The Australian law is separate to a recent deal Facebook made to pay mainstream UK news outlets millions of pounds a year to license their articles, but has a similar motivation. The social network signed the deals as it faces the threat of a government crackdown over its dominance of online advertising. Media companies are encouraged to make commercial deals with Facebook and Google outside the code. But the code gives them a framework to bargain and reach a binding agreement . If they can’t agree, an arbiter will implement the “final offer arbitration” model to determine the level of remuneration.

Also included is a measure providing that the contribution of a digital company to the "sustainability" of the information industry in Australia, via existing agreements, is taken into account.

"These amendments will provide more clarity to digital platforms and news organizations on how the code should work and strengthen the framework to ensure news groups are fairly compensated," Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.

Until then, the Australian government had assured that it would not make any changes to the bill.

A Google spokesperson declined a request for comment.

News group Nine Entertainment welcomes the compromise reached by the government, a spokesperson said, adding that it brought "Facebook back to negotiations with Australian news organizations."

(Colin Packham and Byron Kaye, with Renju Jose; French version Jean Terzian)

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