Australia won't change media law despite Facebook's protest, says FM

WION Web Team
Canberra, AustraliaUpdated: Feb 23, 2021, 08:22 AM IST

FILE Photograph:(Reuters)

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Meanwhile, big, global tech firms in Australia have launched a new code to curb the spread of misinformation, especially after bushfires of 2020

After several days of talks between the Australian government and the social media platform Facebook, Scott Morrison's government has declared that it will not change proposed media laws.

The media law in question will result in Facebook and Alphabet Inc's Google having to pay news outlet for content.

Facebook officials spent the weekend discussing possible and desired changes in the law with the officials of the Australian government.

Now, while the bill is scheduled for a debate in the Senate on Monday, the Finance Minister, Simon Birmingham, has said there will surely be no more amendments in the bill after this. 

"The bill as it stands ... meets the right balance," he said in a local radio interview. As per him, the bill ensures "Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organisations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way."

If the private negotiations fail, the laws will allow the government to appoint an arbitrator to decide content licensing fees.

"There's no reason Facebook can't do and achieve what Google already has," Birmingham said.

Meanwhile, big, global tech firms have launched a new code to curb the spread of misinformation.

Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google, TikTok and similar online platforms on Monday said that its members have agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to bring a decline in the circulation of misinformation.

The members of the group have also decided to permanently disable the accounts and 'bots' that post offensive content or participate in the circulation of misinformation.

"All signatories commit to safeguards to protect Australians against harm from online disinformation and misinformation, and adopting a range of scalable measures that reduce its spread and visibility," the group said.

The code's implementation will be monitored by the government's Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) that said the code became necessary especially after the widespread of misinformation during the Australian bushfires in 2020.

"False and misleading news and information online -- like that spread through the 2020 bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic -- has the potential to cause serious harm to individuals, communities and society," its statement read.