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STORY BY REUTERS

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Technology Facebook & Google
Published on March 13, 2021 12:15 AM

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Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, Calif., on April 30, 2019.Stephen Lam / Reuters file
U.S. lawmakers introduced the plan in Congress on Wednesday to address a perceived power imbalance between news outlets and the tech giants.

Lobbyists for Facebook and Google threw their weight against new U.S. legislation that seeks to aid struggling news publishers by allowing them to negotiate collectively against the tech companies over revenue sharing and other deals.

U.S. lawmakers introduced the plan in Congress on Wednesday to address a perceived power imbalance between news outlets and the tech giants. Critics accuse the companies of using content to drive traffic and ad revenue to their platforms without fairly compensating the publishers.

The move adds to pressure on the tech firms, which are facing antitrust lawsuits and the threat of more regulation.

Google, which declined comment on the proposal, launched a website on Thursday asserting it is "one of the world's biggest financial supporters of journalism" by virtue of the ad revenue and content licensing fees it provides to media. Google said its search engine sends readers to publishers' websites 24 billion times per month.

Also opposing the bill are two technology industry trade groups that Facebook and Google belong to -- the Computer & Communications Industry Association and NetChoice.

"Objective news coverage is a public good, but we don't think the way to fund that public good is by constructing a cartel," said CCIA President Matt Schruers.

The group opposed a 2019 version of the legislation and views the proposed joint bargaining as a way of restricting competition.

Carl Szabo of NetChoice said his goal was to kill the bill or at least convince lawmakers to amend it so that it would be restricted to smaller publications, excluding outlets such as the Washington Post or New York Times.

"I don't think they should be doing this legislation, period," he said. "This legislation allows the Washington Post and New York Times and other big papers to call the shots for the smaller outlets."