At a press briefing on Feb. 19, Price deflected questions regarding whether the United States would follow other world leaders joining the effort to support or take an opinion on Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code that will see tech giants Facebook and Google pay news publishers for content.
Price remarked that the situation involved business negotiations between many private companies and the Australian government.
“Any questions on the status and implications of private business decisions should be directed towards those companies,” Price told reporters. “As I think you know, the United States Government, we do regularly engage in support of U.S. companies, but we don’t generally share the specifics of that engagement.”
While Price was doubtful regarding where the United States stands between maintaining its greatest ally and one of its most successful private enterprises, other world leaders have voiced their support for Australia, including in Canada and the United Kingdom.
Canada is drafting comparable legislation to Australia’s code, and its heritage minister, Steven Guilbeault, said Facebook’s actions would not deter them.
“Canada is at the forefront of this battle … we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this,” Guilbeault stated. “I suspect that soon we will have 5, 10, 15 countries adopting similar rules … is Facebook going to cut ties with Germany, with France?”
The head of the British parliamentary committee managing the media industry announced Facebook was “bullying” Australia.
“I think it’s staggeringly irresponsible at a time when we are facing a plethora of fake news and disinformation in relation to the COVID vaccine,” he stated. “This is not just about Australia. This is Facebook putting a marker down, saying to the world that ‘if you do wish to limit our powers … we can remove what is for many people a utility.’”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Feb. 20 that his government was pleased it had got “strong international support” from world leaders for the country’s position on Facebook, and remarked that Facebook had “tentatively friended us again.”
“In every way, Australia has led the way when it comes to this issue, as we have on other occasions,” Morrison declared. “When it comes to the tax treatment of goods that Amazon were selling in Australia, or the display of violent extremist material on social media platforms, we led that charge together with New Zealand, particularly Australia, through the G20. And so we’re no strangers to taking the lead on this.”