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India keeping tabs on law to make big tech pay for news: Javadekar

No clarity yet on whether government plans to enact similar law in India

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NEW DELHI: The government yesterday introduced sweeping rules to regulate streaming services, online news outlets and social media firms, a move that has the country's digital media ecosystem in a flutter. Undeniably, the last couple of days at the ministry of information and broadcasting have been exceptionally busy, as it dotted the i's on the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. Amidst this, it would seem that another major shake-up in a different corner of the world, resulting from a clash between regulators and digital platforms, has not escaped the MIB's notice.

When asked about Australia passing a law that would make tech giants like Facebook and Google compensate news publishers for content, information & broadcasting (I&B) minister Prakash Javadekar said India is “closely monitoring” the situation.

“India is following those developments with respect to making social media platforms pay for news content,” he said during the press conference announcing the new digital media code.

However, he did not provide any details on whether the Indian government will emulate Australia by enacting a similar legislation here.

The Australian parliament on Thursday passed a landmark legislation that will require social networking platforms to pay for news published on their platforms. The move was widely expected and comes days after the government introduced some last-minute amendments to the proposed bill, known officially as the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

“The code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” treasurer Josh Frydenberg and communications minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.

They added that the government was “pleased to see progress by both Google and more recently Facebook in reaching commercial arrangements with Australian news media businesses.”

This effectively makes Australia the first country where a government-appointed arbitrator can decide on the final price that the social networking platforms will have to pay Australian news publishers, provided a commercial deal cannot be reached independently.

Meanwhile, following the battle Down Under, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has asked Google to pay Indian newspapers comprehensively for the use of their content and to share details of its advertising revenue.

In a letter to Google India country manager Sanjay Gupta, INS president L Adimoolan noted that since the content which is generated and published by newspapers at a considerable expense is proprietary, it is this credible content that has given Google authenticity in India ever since its inception.

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