Australia to introduce landmark Google, Facebook legislation to parliament next week


FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with a Google app icon is seen in front of the displayed Australian flag in this illustration, January 22, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia will introduce landmark legislation to force Alphabet's Google and Facebook to pay publishers and broadcasters for content next week, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Friday.

Australia is on course to become the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content, legislation that is being closely watched around the world.

"The bill will now be considered by the parliament from the week commencing 15 February 2021," Frydenberg said in an emailed statement.

With bipartisan support, the legislation - which Google says is "unworkable" and will force it to pull out of the country altogether - could come into law this month.

The acceleration of the bill came as a senate committee examining the proposals recommended no amendments.

Representatives for Google and Facebook did not immediately comment when contacted by Reuters.

The U.S. search and social media giants have pressed Australia to soften the legislation, with senior executives from both companies holding talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Frydenberg.

Google last week launched a platform in Australia offering news it has paid for, striking its own content deals with publishers in a drive to show the proposed legislation is unnecessary.

Last month Reuters said it had signed a deal with Google to be the first global news provider to Google News Showcase. Reuters is owned by news and information provider Thomson Reuters Corp.

Google and a French publishers' lobby also agreed in January to a copyright framework for the tech firm to pay news publishers for content online, a first for Europe.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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