European Union and Australia Looking to Make Big Tech Companies Pay for News

Lawmakers in Australia and the European Union are looking to regulate Big Tech companies by forcing them to pay for news.

European Parliament members (MEPs) are in the process of drafting the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), according to the Financial Times. These acts primarily seek to subject Big Tech companies to “asymmetric measures,” meaning that they would face “greater scrutiny and penalties” than smaller tech companies. The Financial Times has also learned that the acts could be amended to include provisions similar to those proposed in Australia, such as forcing Big Tech to pay for news and to notify publishers whenever they change their news-ranking algorithms.

Maltese MEP Alex Saliba told FT that Big Tech companies “create power imbalances and benefit significantly from news content” and that Australia’s proposed legislation adequately addresses their “dominant market position.”

“I think it is only fair that they pay back a fair amount,” Saliba said.

Facebook and Google have previously criticized Australia’s attempt to regulate them. In August of last year Facebook said that Australia’s proposed law “misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect. […] Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram.”

Also in August 2020 Google claimed the regulations would force them to “provide [users] with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube, could lead to [their] data behind handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services [they] use at risk.”

Big Tech regulation has become an issue that people of opposing political persuasions can agree is important. Although opposing sides will have opposing ideas, they can nevertheless concur that Big Tech companies dominate the market to an excessive degree and play a significant role in how elections unfold. Leftists are generally concerned that Big Tech allows the proliferation of “hate speech” and “misinformation,” whereas conservatives are generally concerned that Big Tech censors them and props up left-leaning mainstream media outlets.

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