Australia regulator dares Facebook to block news content

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Facebook Inc will be “weakened” if it stops Australians from sharing news so the company can avoid paying for content under proposed laws, Australia’s top antitrust regulator said on Thursday. Australia has proposed forcing Facebook and internet search giant Google to pay local media outlets for content, drawing strong opposition from the US companies in a dispute that is being watched by regulators and news organisations around the world. Facebook said this month it would stop Australians from sharing local and international news on its website if the proposal becomes law. The proposal in Australia involves an arbitrator setting the payment terms if an internet company can’t strike a deal with a local media outlet, a provision Facebook has said could force it to pay unlimited royalties. If Facebook quit news sharing in Australia to avoid the law, the company “may get something worse” elsewhere, Sims added.

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