The proposed Australian News Media Bargaining Code is a contentious code of conduct that will compel digital companies like Facebook and Google to pay for any news content they link to.
In simple terms, if Google links to a news story, they are required to pay for it under this proposed mandatory code of conduct, as far Facebook and other digital companies.
And if you think this sounds like a stupid idea that would never be enacted into law, you seriously underestimate the influence that Rupert Murdoch and News Corp have in Australia.
Don’t just take my word for it, the inventor of the World Wide Web himself Tim Berners-Lee has come out against this proposed code of conduct.
And things could possibly get a lot worse. Google has said that if the code of conduct were to be implemented as it currently stands, that they would withdraw Google search from the Australian market.
This would put Australia into a unique category alongside China and North Korea as well as a few other countries where Google search is not available. Imagine not being able to use Google Search in Australia like you’re living in a tyrannical dictatorship?
Speaking of North Korea, they recently just criticised Australia for humans rights abuses amongst other claims. The sad thing is, they are right, 2021 is off to a great start.
Let’s be honest, a majority of Australian news is produced by News Corporation which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a controversial and widely hated media figurehead who has done a lot of damage through the numerous media organisations that he owns.
Look no further than Fox News, which enabled the terrible Trump presidency and has caused significant harm. Similarly, Sky News over in Australia (which is just an Australian version of Fox News) is more of the same biased drivel Fox News is known for.
The biggest recipients of any such compensation from Facebook and Google would be News Corp. Let’s really let the irony of that sink in for a moment. In the five years to 2018-2019, News Corp paid zero Australian tax on $360 million in profits.
Let it sink in further. The Australian Government and ACCC heavily lobbied by large multinational news organisations who pay zero tax want Facebook and Google to pay their “fair share” and level the playing field? What is fair about that?
They might as well rename this the, “News Corp media mafia protection racket code” at this point. News Corp stands to benefit the most for their abysmal soulless reporting.
And look, I don’t feel sorry for Facebook or Google. Let’s face it, these companies (amongst many other multinationals) are taking taxpayers for a ride and not paying their fair share. I think Facebook and Google should pay, not for links to clickbait and biased reporting, but taxes.
How does Google benefit from linking to the news? I have yet to see a factual and accurate dataset that proves Google or any other site is profiting from news articles. I am a millennial, and I get most of my news from other sources, but I certainly do not get it from Facebook or Google.
If you want a level playing field, forget media organisations who have failed to embrace the internet, make multinationals (especially media organisations masquerading as Australian companies when they are not) pay tax. Close the loopholes, stop letting Australians get ripped off.
It’s clear that the Australian government does not care about companies exploiting tax loopholes, opting to go after everyday Australians (see robodebt which saw over 470,000 erroneous debts issued, some people committing suicide over them) instead of the fruit at the top of the tree. And, now protecting the Murdoch news mafia once again with this proposed code.
Imagine being the leader of an allegedly first-world country responsible for lumping your country in with China and North Korea being unable to freely access information on Google because it is banned?