The US opposes Australia's technology tax bill

The US opposes Australia’s technology tax bill


Like a number of other European countries, Australia has prepared a draft of a set of rules requiring Google and Facebook to pay for the use of news content by host country media organizations.

The company is a legal agent of UC's listening agency
Australia intends to tax companies that use the content of information from the host media.

According to the Code, if an agreement cannot be reached on how much to pay Australian media organizations, US technology companies will face fines of up to AUD 10 million ($ 7.5 million). .

If a news platform or business cannot agree on the price of a news product after three months of negotiation, the authorities will form a three-member arbitration committee, responsible for making decisions. have payment obligations for at least 2 years.

This committee, independently, will choose the best option, but the payment is only in one direction, from digital platforms to traditional news media businesses.

The draft does not specify how the payment is to be made. Digital platforms and media businesses can agree on a one-time or regular payment based on the amount of information used. Facebook and Google said they will research the draft carefully before commenting.

In a letter to the Australian Senate, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) argued that the draft of the Australian code of conduct “was drafted in a vague and confusing manner”, and that if put into practice could cause “Negative consequences” for US and Australian companies, as well as for consumers in this country.

The USTR expressed “serious concern” about both the Australian regulatory process and the content of the code, including the provision that conferred on a minister “broad powers” in identifying a particular company. as well as the specific services of this company are subject to the “heavy, imposing set of rules”.

The letter to the Australian Senate also emphasizes that this code is designed to target only two US companies, Google and Facebook.

Therefore, the USTR urges the Australian Government to suspend the plan to issue the above Code and return to the enactment of a voluntary code of conduct with relevant, transparent drafted rules. with participation of all stakeholders.

In a statement on the evening of January 18, Treasury Secretary Josh Frydenberg affirmed that the Australian Government is committed to implementing a mandatory rule in order to achieve its set goal of “resolving the imbalance in bargaining power” between Digital platforms and media companies.

He emphasized the code as the result of an 18-month review by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), as well as extensive consultations with stakeholders, including Google. and Facebook.

So far, both Google and Facebook still strongly oppose the revised set of rules. Google has threatened to withdraw from Australia if the rule is passed, while Facebook has warned it will ban news sharing on its platform.

It is known that CEOs of Google, Facebook and Australian media companies will attend a meeting with an Australian Senate Committee on January 22 to continue to comment on the draft code. clogged.

Australia’s draft of the above rules comes as the media around the world are increasingly under pressure in the digital economy with advertising revenue overwhelmed by tech giants like Facebook. or Google.

In addition, the media crisis has been exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with dozens of newspapers closed and hundreds of journalists losing their jobs in recent months in Australia.

The Australian government has long been concerned that Google holds 53% of online advertising revenue, while Facebook accounts for 28%, but does not pay for the use of information that these platforms share with users.

Therefore, the head of News Corp Australia – one of the largest media organizations in the country, welcomed the draft of the above Code, considering this as an important step towards equity.

Hai Lam

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