Arts & Entertainment

US, Web inventor oppose Australia’s plan to make tech giants pay for content

Sydney, Australia, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- The government of the United States and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, asked Australia, in separate submissions, to reconsider a proposed bill to make tech giants including Google and Facebook to pay local media for publishing their content.

The proposed legislation, which was presented to the Australian parliament last month, seeks to compel major technology companies to negotiate payments to local media for the content that they post on their digital platforms.

According to the new rule, if both parties cannot reach an agreement, the government will appoint an intermediary to decide the amount to be paid.

In a submission addressed to the Australian Senate inquiry on the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code bill, Berners-Lee expressed concern “that the Code risks breaching a fundamental principle of the web by requiring payment for linking between certain content online.”

“The ability to link freely — meaning without limitations regarding the content of the linked site and without monetary fees — is fundamental to how the web operates, how it has flourished till present, and how it will continue to grow in decades to come,” he added in the document dated Jan. 18.

Meanwhile, Assistant US Trade Representatives Daniel Bahar and Karl Ehlers urged the Australian government to “suspend” its plans to move this bill forward.

“The US Government is concerned that an attempt, through legislation, to regulate the competitive positions of specific players in a fast-evolving digital market, to the clear detriment of two US firms, may result in harmful outcomes,” according to the submission, dated Jan. 15 and posted on the Australian parliament’s website.

“We urge Australia to consider whether such discrimination in favor of one subset of market participants, based on its nexus to the Australian market, could raise concerns with respect to Australia’s international trade obligations,” added the document addressed to the Senate committee.

The measure, which aims to protect local media, comes in response to recommendations made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in a report in December 2019 on the impact that digital search engines, social media platforms, and other digital content aggregation platforms have on competition in media and advertising services markets.

In addition to these two submissions, the committee, which is due to submit a report on the proposed law on Feb. 12, had received dozens of submissions on the initiative by several individuals, companies and organizations including Twitter and the Americans for Tax Reform Organization, among others, by Jan. 18. EFE-EPA


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