Zuckerberg Hasn’t Convinced Australia to Back Down From New Law

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Facebook Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s meeting with Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in the past week did little to resolve the spat between the social media giant and the country over proposed changes to media laws.

“Mark Zuckerberg didn’t convince me to back down, if that’s what you’re asking,” Frydenberg said on Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s “Insiders” program on Sunday. The billionaire “reached out to talk about the code and the impact on Facebook” in what the treasurer called “a very constructive discussion.”

Tech giants from Facebook to Alphabet Inc.’s Google have been battling Australian lawmakers on the proposed legislation requiring them to pay for using media content. The new laws are designed to support the local media industry, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., that has struggled to adapt to the digital economy.

Facebook has threatened to block Australians from sharing news on its platform if the law is pushed through, while Google said it could remove its search engine entirely from the Australian market.

Frydenberg said Sunday that while he doesn’t dismiss Google’s threats, he’s not “intimidated” by them either.

“We’re in detailed discussions with Google, with Facebook, with the other players across the industry, because this has not been a short conversation that we’ve had with these companies,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also spoken with Microsoft Corp.’s CEO Satya Nadella about the proposed changes, Frydenberg said.

“At every step of the way, these businesses have been consulted,” the treasurer said. “What I do know is media businesses should be paid for content.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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