Australia passes controversial media law that will make Google and Facebook pay for news

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What you need to know

  • The Australian government passed its new law that will require Facebook and Google to pay for news content.
  • Google and Facebook spoke out against the law, but it passed following a series of amendments.
  • Microsoft has pushed for the law to be passed and emulated in other countries.

Australia passed a law that will require Facebook and Google to pay for local news content (via the BBC). The law saw backpack and debate from Facebook and Google but has been praised by Microsoft. The law, called the News Media Bargaining Code, passed Australia's House of Representatives on Thursday after already having gone through Australia's Senate.

The law requires Google and Facebook to negotiate a fee with publishers to use news content or, if an agreement cannot be made, go through an arbitration process. The law specifically targets Facebook and Google at the moment, but that could change in the future.

The law also requires tech giants to give news publishers notice of changes to algorithms, which determine which stories are displayed.

The goal of the law is to combat the power imbalance between news organizations and tech giants. If another tech giant creates an imbalance, it's feasible that legislation could be made to affect them as well.

In contrast to Facebook and Google's pushback against the law, Microsoft has been all for it. In fact, Microsoft President Brad Smith pushed for other countries to adopt similar laws. Microsoft also joined Europe's press publishers in calling for a similar setup in Europe.

While Microsoft is not directly affected by the legislation at this time, its leaders say that the company would "be willing to live by these rules if the government designates."

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at