Australia to introduce Google, Facebook legislation to parliament next week

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Australia will next week introduce landmark legislation to force Alphabet's Google and Facebook to pay publishers and broadcasters for content, a senior government official said on Friday.

The legislation, which Google says will be "unworkable", will make Australia the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content.

"The bill will now be considered by the parliament from the week commencing 15 February 2021," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in an emailed statement.

The legislation is being closely watched around the world.

With bipartisan support, it could come into law this month despite the misgivings of Google, which says the law will force it to withdraw its search function.

Software giant Microsoft Corp said was confident its search product Bing could fill the gap in Australia if Google withdrew.

Lucinda Longcroft, director of government affairs and public Policy for Google in Australia and New Zealand, said the company had proposed amendments to a Senate enquiry but they were rejected.

Nevertheless, the company still hoped to discuss the law with members of parliament.

"We look forward to engaging with policymakers through the parliamentary process to address our concerns and achieve a code that works for everyone - publishers, digital platforms, and Australian businesses and users," Longcroft said in an emailed statement.

Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment when contacted by Reuters.

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