Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code passes, paves the way for big tech news policy

Piotr+Malczyk+-+Alamy+Stock+Photos

Alamy Stock Photo

Piotr Malczyk – Alamy Stock Photos

By Mary Katreeb, STAFF WRITER
In April 2020, proceedings began to amend Australia’s Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to account for the power disparity between news organizations and big tech companies such as Facebook and Google. The amendment is officially titled the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code and was passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives on Feb. 24.
The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code mandates big tech platforms to pay news media organizations to utilize their original content. The amendment is the first of its kind and aims to restore power to news media organizations that have long been subject to the whims of corporations such as Facebook and Google.
Facebook did not take kindly to the amendment, and prior to its passing, they banned news to Australian users as a form of protest. However, the Australian government and Facebook officials eventually came to an agreement; wherein Facebook attempted to salvage their company image. Now that the amendment is passed, there is unlikely to be any further retaliation from Facebook to avoid upsetting the public.
It is important to note that while the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code does improve the financial outcomes for news media organizations, Facebook still has the agency to decide what news to include on their platform. If they do not wish to pay a particular organization for their news, they are not obligated to.
The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code is leading the way in holding big tech accountable for paying for the work of others. However, will this lead to Facebook blacking out specific organizations? The power of big tech is undeniable, yet policies such as this one are a step in the right direction.