Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that Facebook has attacked the sovereign nation of Australia and that his government will not be intimidated by Facebook’s threats. Meanwhile, other nations from around the world have join in sparking a global war against the threats from Big Tech.
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In a move to protect the native news industry from tech giants, Australia had ordered Google and Facebook to share revenue with local media for news content or pay $10M fine.
The Australian authorities ordered Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to pass on the earnings made from news pieces to local media.
Authorities stated that the judgment was an attempt to correct a potential unbalance amidst the two tech giants and a residential digital industry that’s draining activities.
Google threatened to shut down operations in Australia in January after the bill moved forward that forces the internet giant to pay news publishers.
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Google and Facebook believed this was unfair. So they announced they may close down their operations in Australia.
On Thursday, Facebook followed up on their threats and blocked Australians from viewing and sharing news on the platform because of proposed laws in the country to make digital giants pay for journalism.
According to CBS News, Australian publishers can continue to publish news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences, the U.S.-based company said in a statement.
But in the process, Facebook blocked readers from access to The Bureau of Meteorology, state health departments, the Western Australian opposition leader, and charities as a result of the company’s wide-ranging ban on sharing or viewing news.
Australia’s Prime Minister said in a statement that Facebook attacked a sovereign nation:
Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing. I am in regular contact with the leaders of other nations on these issues.
These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them. They may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.
We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code. Just as we weren’t intimidated when Amazon threatened to leave the country and when Australia drew other nations together to combat the publishing of terrorist content on social media platforms.
I encourage Facebook to constructively work with the Australian Government, as Google recently demonstrated in good faith.
Following Australia’s lead, now Canada has announced that it aims to force Facebook to pay for news content. Ottawa said it would not be intimidated if the tech giant seeks retribution.
Joining in the fight Poland declared that it will fine these so called tech giants $13.5 million per case for removing content.
In a move against Big Tech censorship of free speech, Poland is planning to make censoring of social media accounts illegal.
“Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” said the prime minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki. “There can be no consent to censorship.”
The Italians meanwhile have slapped Facebook with a fine of €7M for repeated data violations.
Facebook was given a similar fine in Hungary in late 2019. The country’s competition authority fined it 1.2 billion Hungarian forints (€3.6 million) for falsely advertising its services as being free on its landing page and help center.
Even the Russian President Vladimir Putin called out the tech censorship in what he termed as IT Exceptionalism:
These so-called platforms, IT companies, are a serious challenge not only for us… we see what has happened in the United States…and if they behave like that in their country, then how will they treat others, given that they consider themselves exceptional?