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EU looks set to follow Australia’s lead by demanding Google, Facebook pay for news articles

10 Feb 2021

Martin Coulter 


  • The EU looks set to follow Australia’s lead and demand tech platforms pay to display news.
  • Australia’s threat resulted in Google threatening to pull search from the country.
  • MEP Alex Saliba said the Australian approach addressed the “acute bargaining power imbalances.”

European legislators may follow Australia’s lead in calling on major tech platforms like Facebook and Google to pay to display news articles. 

The Australian government has been locked in a war of words with Google over proposed new regulations in recent weeks, culminating in the tech giant threatening to shut down its search engine locally. 

Meanwhile, Facebook has also warned it could stop Australian users from sharing news articles if the legislation goes through in its current form, with local MD Will Easton saying there were “no clear limits” on the amount publishers could charge. 

But the EU looks set to make similar demands of the tech giants, according to the Financial Times, as legislators seek to build on the framework outlined in the recently proposed EU Digital Services and Digital Markets acts

Speaking to the paper, Maltese MEP Alex Saliba said the Australian government’s approach had addressed the “acute bargaining power imbalances” between tech platforms and news publishers. 

“With their dominant market position in search, social media and advertising, large digital platforms create power imbalances and benefit significantly from news content,” he said. “I think it is only fair that they pay back a fair amount.”

The EU has been at the forefront of tough new data and tech regulation in recent years, bringing in the wide-ranging GDPR data protection legislation – which has resulted in massive fines for the likes of British Airways and Marriott Hotels – and proposals to clamp down on digital giants. 

“People trust Google to help them find relevant and reliable information from a range of websites, and this helps publishers by sending them valuable traffic to their sites,” a Google spokesperson told the FT. “We are willing to pay to further support journalism and we are doing that around the world.”

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