The proposal would allow some media outlets to bargain with Facebook and Google individually or collectively – and to enter arbitration if the parties could not reach an agreement within three months, according to regulators. The process will involve an independent arbitrator to look into the motions of both parties and settle the case within 45 business days.
Both tech firms argue that the law is unfairly skewed toward publishers, and will force them to pay news companies while tech firms believe they already do much to support them .
Easton, for example, said Facebook’s decision came later this week when it had already tried to work with regulators on ways to work closely with media outlets.
“We have already invested millions of dollars in Australian news businesses and, while discussing this legislation, we offered to invest millions more,” he wrote. “We also hoped to bring Facebook News to Australia, a feature on our platform for news, where we pay publishers for their content.”
Those proposals were “ignored,” he said.
Australian Treasurer Josh Friedenberg responded to Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday, saying the reforms would “help create a more sustainable media landscape.”
“Australia enacts laws that advance our national interest. We do not respond to threats of coercion or heavy handedness wherever we come,” he said in a statement.
For now, Google and Facebook are the only technology companies that will be subject to the new regulation. But according to the regulators, other platforms may be added in the future.
Easton said on Monday that “the proposed legislation is unprecedented in its reach and seeks to regulate every aspect of how tech companies do business with news publishers.”
“We are left with the option of removing the news altogether or accepting a system that allows publishers to charge us for more content as a value without any clear limits,” Easton said. “Unfortunately, no business can operate that way.”
If Facebook goes ahead with its decision to ban news on its platforms, it will not affect the company’s other offerings to users in Australia, he said.
The law went through a public consultation phase last month. It will then be finalized and placed before the Parliament, where the legalists will vote to pass it.