Australia's political opposition to support Facebook, Google legislation – sources



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Smartphone with Google app icon is seen in front of the displayed Australian flag in this illustration

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia’s political opposition will support proposed legislation that would force Alphabet (NASDAQ:)’s Google and Facebook (NASDAQ:) to pay publishers and broadcasters for content, two sources briefed on the matter said on Tuesday.

The bill, whose prospects are being widely watched around the world, is dependent upon support from the opposition as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s ruling Liberal party does not have a majority in the country’s upper house.

Lawmakers from Australia’s centre-left Labor party endorsed the bill at a meeting in Canberra on Tuesday, said the sources, who were not authorised to speak to media on the matter and declined to be identified.

The bill is expected to be introduced into parliament this week.

Google and Facebook have pressed Australia to soften the legislation, with senior executives from both companies holding talks with Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Google has asked for series of changes, most notably having its new platform, Showcase, covered by the legislation rather than search results generated.

Last month, Reuters said it had signed a deal with Google to be the first global news provider to Google News Showcase. Reuters is owned by news and information provider Thomson Reuters Corp.

Google and a French publishers’ lobby group agreed in January to a copyright framework for the tech firm to pay news publishers for content online, a first for Europe.

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