At a glance.
- Update on Facebook and Australia's media policy.
- Imposition of consequences for Solorigate.
Facebook unblocks Australian news.
The BBC and ABC report that Australia and Facebook cooled off and came to an agreement after nearly a weeklong news blackout. Facebook will reinstate news sharing in return for several amendments to the News Media Bargaining Code, including an exemption for companies that can show a “significant contribution” to domestic media. Other changes include an additional notification and mediation period before the binding arbitration process, and a provision clarifying that Facebook maintains control of what news is published on the platform, so the company isn’t compelled to pay by default. Facebook has already recommenced negotiations with local outlets, and Canberra is working to reinvest in Facebook ads.
Facebook Australia’s Managing Director says the new agreement allows the company to “further [its] investment in public interest journalism,” while Computing and the Wall Street Journal mark the global precedent the tussle will set (a precedent The CyberWire has also noted). Another Facebook representative commented that the firm will fight any “regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms.” Australian authorities, however, are celebrating Big Tech’s return to the negotiating table as a win, given the law’s aim of facilitating deals between platforms and outlets.
Foreign Policy challenges the widespread assertion that media mogul Rupert Murdoch is pulling Australia’s strings as “outdated and simplistic,” explaining that every influential outlet has pushed for the bill, and the market share of Murdoch’s News Corp has dwindled in recent decades. The piece also politely suggests Canberra pay for its own dang journalism, claiming the whole dispute is about “fleecing foreigners for news that Australians no longer want to pay for.” Saying “Facebook shocked the country by declining to buy a subscription,” the piece maintains that Big Tech is no more obligated to bail out the news than any other laggards of the Internet revolution, and calls Canberra “the real bully in this debate.” Facebook has reserved the right to re-remove the news, according to ABC, should relations deteriorate.
A Wired opinion offers a more critical perspective, taking a swipe at Facebook’s abysmal Roy Morgan polling, pushing back on the conceptual and historical veracity of Big Tech’s “break the internet” line, and arguing that “gatekeepers” ought to pitch in for content. The author would rather the US break up Facebook, however, saying it’s bad form to let a “monopolist with power over a market whose competitive structure the public has a compelling interest in” run wild.
US concocts a consequence cocktail for Russia.
Cheddar says Senator Warner (Democrat of Virginia) continues to push for a bold response to the SolarWinds breach, warning that the US has for too long been “reluctant to punch back,” fearing “cyber escalation." Senator Blumenthal (Democrat of Connecticut) agrees that Moscow should “pay a price” and Washington needs to “establish some rules of the road,” according to C4ISNET. Microsoft President Smith added that the Administration ought to begin with “public accountability” then develop a “robust menu” of possible responses to cyber incidents.
The Washington Post observes that the leaders may soon get their wish: the Government is preparing a clearer “attribution statement” along with a “mix of tools seen and unseen” that will “ensure that Russia understands where the United States draws the line on this kind of activity.” Undergirding the plans is a shift from describing the event as “an intelligence gathering effort” to an “indiscriminate,” “destabilizing,” “potentially disruptive” breach. After summarizing possible plays—interfering with President Putin’s assets, baring his more unsavory connections, and cracking domestic censorship—the New York Times notes that the distinction between targeted and indiscriminate espionage may not hold up under scrutiny. Dread of yet undiscovered backdoors could also inhibit the US’ response.