Australia is stepping closer to its promise of passing a landmark legislation. Named “News Media Bargaining Code,” the legislation – if passed – would force internet giants to pay for publishing content. Can Australia’s new code change the way the world experiences the internet?

Companies such as Google, Facebook, and other tech giants have come under government’s scrutiny recently. The reasons are many.  

In October 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) snapped an antitrust case on Google for exercising an indirect monopoly on the billion dollar search market. Facebook has a reputation for acquiring businesses with future potential. 

Companies that initially became the voice of people have gradually evolved into tech giants that control what people say. 

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What Australia did?

Australian regulators have zeroed-in on the biggest tech giants that exercise dominance in digital marketing and the search industry. 

The country proposed a “News Media Bargaining Code” that will require tech giants like Google and Facebook to pay for news content appearing in their searches and feeds.

Being the “world’s first” such legislation, it has drawn the attention of the entire world. Peter Lewis, Director of Australian Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology said, “This is the first time a government has tried to systemically deal with the market power of Big Tech and its influence on the media.”

In addition, Australia says it wants to level the field.

“For every $100 spent on online advertising, Google captures $53, Facebook takes $28, and the rest is shared among others,” reported an Australian competition watchdog company. 

How Google and Facebook reacted?

According to reports, Google’s reaction has been quite shrill. Google also threatened the Australian Government that it would block its search engine in the country over the proposed law.

A Google spokesperson commented: “The ability to link freely between websites is fundamental to Search. This code creates an unreasonable and unmanageable financial and operational risk to our business.” 

About withdrawing the search engine, he said, “It is our worst-case scenario if the code remains unworkable and the last thing we want to have happen.”

While Facebook has also opposed the code, it hasn’t gone as far as Google in threatening to pull an entire product from a country. 

What does Australia’s new code states?

According to the new code, tech giants will enter into commercial agreements with the Australian news organizations. An independent arbiter will step in if deals are not reached mutually. 

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said, “This code, a world-first, is the culmination of an 18-month review by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as well as extensive consultation which canvassed a range of views and different approaches, including from Google and Facebook.” 

Will it change the way the Internet functions?

WorldWideWeb inventor Tim-Berners Lee chimed in on the discussion saying such legislation can risk the core principle of the web. 

According to Lee, the ability to link freely and without any monetary exchange is, “fundamental to how the web operates, how it has flourished till present, and how it will continue to grow in decades to come.”

Disrupting this might open a pandora’s box of monetary claims that would break the internet. 

What do you think will happen if the code becomes a legislation? Let us know in the comments section.