Tuesday 9 February 2021 12:35 pm

EU weighs up forcing tech giants to pay for news

The EU is said to be considering laws that would force tech giants to pay for news content, mirroring similar moves in Australia.

The bloc is currently drafting two new laws — the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act — which are designed to stamp out harmful material and curb Big Tech’s power.

But MEPs told the Financial Times that the reforms could be amended to include rules requiring platforms to share some of their revenue with publishers.

This could include the option of binding arbitration for licensing agreements and forcing tech firms to inform publishers about changes to how news stories are ranked on their sites.

It comes after Australia last month unveiled plans for new laws that will require tech firms such as Google and Facebook to share revenue with news publishers amid concerns the so-called duopoly held an unfair position in the online ad market.

The moves sparked a backlash in Silicon Valley, with Google threatening to withdraw its search engine in the country. Facebook has said it will stop Australian users from sharing news if the law is passed.

Tech titans have stepped up efforts to ink licensing deals with publishers in a bid to stave off the threat of regulation.

Google last month said it will pay publishers for their content in France, while Facebook extended its news service in the UK, signing deals with the Daily Mail, Financial Times, Telegraph, Sky News and Channel 4 News.

But some critics have argued that these deals do not go far enough and called for tough new laws.

A House of Lords committee last described the online ad market as “dysfunctional” and said social media firms should be forced to pay news publishers for their content.