Australia and Facebook have been at an impasse for more than a week over a bill that will force tech giants to pay for information.
Facebook has agreed to restore Australia’s news pages after the government proposed amendments to legislation that would force tech giants to pay for media content displayed on their platforms.
Tuesday’s agreement came amid a standoff that lasted more than a week between the Australian government and the social media group over the so-called media bargaining code.
Facebook and Google have strongly opposed Australia’s bill, which will force tech giants to enter into business deals with Australian publishers or face mandatory arbitration. The bill passed the House of Representatives last Wednesday, prompting Facebook to block its 13 million Australian users from accessing and sharing all news on its platform.
The outage also wiped out content from pages for emergency services, health authorities and non-profits, sparking widespread outrage.
The Australian government and Facebook announced a deal on Tuesday, following a series of talks over the weekend between Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Australia will propose four amendments, which include a change to the mandatory arbitration mechanism used when tech giants fail to reach an agreement with publishers over fair payment for viewing news content.
“We are pleased that the Australian Government has agreed to a number of changes and safeguards that address our key concerns about allowing trade agreements that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers over the value that we receive from them,” Facebook said in a statement. put online.
The amendments provide for a two-month mediation period before the intervention of the government-appointed arbitrator, giving the parties more time to reach a private agreement. It also inserts a rule that an internet company’s contribution to the “sustainability of the Australian information industry” through existing agreements must be taken into account.
The issue has been widely followed internationally as other countries, including the UK and Canada, consider similar legislation.
“These changes will provide more clarity to digital platforms and news media companies about how the code is supposed to work and strengthen the framework to ensure news media companies are fairly compensated,” Frydenberg said in a statement. communicated.
“The government has been informed by Facebook that it intends to restore the Australian news pages in the coming days,” he added.
Australia had until Monday said it would make no further changes to the legislation.
A spokesperson for Australian publisher and broadcaster Nine Entertainment Co welcomed the government’s compromise, which it said brought “Facebook back into negotiations with Australian media”.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims, the law’s principal architect, was not immediately available for comment. During a speech earlier on Tuesday, Sims declined to answer questions about the standoff on the grounds that it was before parliament.