Australia and Facebook have been at a standstill for more than a week over a bill that will force tech giants to pay for news.
Facebook agreed to restore Australian news pages after the government proposed changes to the law that would require tech giants to pay for media content displayed on their platforms.
Tuesday’s deal came amid a standoff that has lasted for over a week between the Australian government and the social media group over the so-called media bargaining code.
Facebook and Google have strongly opposed the Australian bill, which will force tech giants to strike business deals with Australian publishers or face binding arbitration. The bill was passed by 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 blackout also wiped out content from the pages of emergency services, health authorities and nonprofits, sparking widespread outrage.
The Australian government and Facebook announced a deal on Tuesday, after 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 cannot reach an agreement with publishers on fair payment for viewing news content.
“We are pleased that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our primary concerns about authorizing trade agreements that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers versus the value that we get it, ”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 should be taken into account.
The issue has been widely watched internationally as other countries, including the UK and Canada, consider similar legislation.
“These amendments will bring more clarity to digital platforms and news media companies on how the code is supposed to work and will strengthen the framework to ensure that news media companies are fairly compensated,” Frydenberg said in a statement.
“The government has been informed by Facebook of its intention to restore the Australian news pages in the coming days,” he added.
Australia had until Monday said it would not make any further changes to the law.
A spokesperson for Australian publisher and broadcaster Nine Entertainment Co praised the government’s compromise, which it says has brought Facebook back into negotiations with Australian media.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment.
Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims, the law’s lead architect, was not immediately available for comment. In a speech earlier Tuesday, Sims declined to answer questions about the standoff on the grounds that she was before Parliament.