- Google and Facebook have taken the control of the way news is shared on the online platform.
- Australia forced the tech giant to pay the local publishers for their content as a part of the law.
- Post that, Google threatened to remove its search engine from Australia.
Over the last decade, so many newspapers have lost their existence. This is because of Big Tech’s advertising market that has disrupted the industry. Republicans and Democrats disagree on the tech reforms be it content moderation or spinning off the acquisitions. But both of them agree that local journalism needs a savior.
On Friday, a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing focused heavily on the way news is distributed through Google and Facebook. They have introduced a new bill earlier this week, and they have managed to gain Republican’s support. It has been one of the massive legislative threat to tech has come out of the years-long antitrust debate. So much of the political force behind it comes from local journalism.
About the bill:
“The crisis in American journalism has become a real crisis in our democracy and civic life,” Cicilline said. Cicilline’s bill called “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2021”, would enable the news organizations to collectively negotiate with the social media platforms like Facebook and Google. They will negotiate the terms on which their content will be distributed online. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), has signed in support of this bill.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar leads Senate’s antitrust panel. He also has sponsored the legislation within the Senate and the Republicans similar to Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO). “This bill is a step in the right direction to dethroning those digital kings,” Buck said in his opening remarks Friday. “It is not a subsidy for outlets, but rather a leveling of the playing field in favor of democracy and free expression.”
There has been growing bipartisan support for the measure on Capitol Hill Friday, yet the real drama occurred beyond the dias.
The meaning behind this:
Congress is indirectly being pressured to take an action. In January, Google threatened to remove its search engine from Australia. This happened in the response to the new law that forced the tech giant to pay news publishers for their content. The law received approval in February and Google had to shake hands and make a deal with the News Corp and other local publishers.
While all this happened, Microsoft released a statement to support Australia’s effort to provide protection to the publishers. “One thing is clear: while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in the statement last month.
Smith was summoned in as a witness for Friday’s court session to announce his support for Cicilline’s media negotiation bill. Before the hearing began, Google introduced a scathing statement against Microsoft. The statement suggested that Microsoft was “making self-serving claims” which could “break the way the open web works to undercut a rival.”
Google has a very good reason to fear this bill, as far as Australia bluff is concerned. The Cicilline bill received bipartisan support and it has been the first victory at Big Tech before they can introduce more reforms. Glenn Greenwald who is a former Intercept Editor turned Substack newsletter writer, also provided his testimonial during Friday’s hearing.
“The concern I have is that the discussion in the legislation seems grounded in a premise that the only or the primary problem, to both local and national journalism, is that Google and Facebook are vacuuming up advertising revenue and that you simply fix that problem the problem of media failure will be rectified as well,” Greenwald said. “I think that until the problem that this subcommittee identified in its report is addressed head-on, which is breaking up the monopoly powers of this industry, none of these problems will be fixed.”
Cicilline went back to Greenwald and said that this is just the beginning. “The bill that, at least Mr. Buck and I have put forth… provides a temporary fix for a 48-month period. And in fact, anything these larger media companies would negotiate would be available to the smallest role newspaper in any city in town in America.”
He continued, “We’re not going to do either or. We’re going to do both.”