Canada, Australia agree to co-ordinate efforts on regulation of online platforms

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison have agreed to continue "co-ordinating efforts" to ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with creators and media, a Tuesday statement from Ottawa said.

The two prime ministers spoke Monday on a range of topics including the need to address online harm and have social media companies pay for journalism, the statement said.

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The growing co-operation between Canada and Australia on the regulation of online platforms comes as Facebook backed down on a ban it introduced last week that prevented Australians from viewing and sharing news on its platform.

The social media company announced Tuesday it would lift the ban, saying it had struck a deal with the Australian government on proposed legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism.

The statement from Ottawa signals Canada's intentions to follow in Australia's footsteps and comes after Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault last week promised to introduce legislation that would force tech giants like Facebook to pay Canadian media companies for their content

Facebook caused alarm with its sudden decision last week to block news on its platform across Australia after the House of Representatives passed the draft law.

Facebook's co-operation is a major victory in Australia's efforts to make two major gateways to the internet, Google and Facebook, pay for the journalism that they use.

It's a faceoff that governments and tech companies the world over have watched closely.

Google also had threatened to remove its search functions from Australia because of the proposed law, but that threat has faded.

Facebook said it would now negotiate deals with Australian publishers.

Google, meanwhile, has been signing up Australia's largest media companies in content-licensing deals through its News Showcase.

The platform said it has deals with more than 50 Australian titles and more than 500 publishers globally using the model, which was launched in October.

- With files from The Associated Press.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021.

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Facebook funds a fellowship that supports journalism positions at The Canadian Press.

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