SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he would continue his talks with Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Friday after the social media platform blocked its news feeds in the country over disputes over a new media payment code.
“We spoke yesterday morning but then we were subsequently in contact and we agreed to talk later this morning, we’ll see where those discussions go and we can find a pathway going forward,” Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Facebook took down pages of domestic and international news outlets on Thursday but also blocked several Australian state governments and emergency departments saying the draft media payment law did not clearly define news drawing widespread criticism.
Pages of some emergency departments were later restored but Facebook’s action was rebuked by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who called it “as arrogant as they were disappointing.”
Australia plans to put to a vote soon on a legislation that would force Big Tech firms like Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay news outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms, or agree a price through arbitration.
“We are seeking to pass that legislation through the senate next week, but there is something much bigger here at stake than just one or two commercial deals. This is about Australia’s sovereignty,” Frydenberg said.
Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Sam Holmes