Brad-Smith-Microsoft

As some tech giants hit back at recent law changes in Australia, Microsoft continues to take a different stance. In fact, the company’s President, Brad Smith, continues to push for a similar law to come to the United States. In his latest thoughts on the matter, Smith has explained why Microsoft is taking its position.

One of several controversial tech laws being pushed in Australia is forcing online new curators to pay content creators for their work. For example, Facebook and Google must pay originators of sources for linking their work on their platforms.

Known as the News Media Bargaining Code, the law forces tech giants to reach deals with news outlets regarding remuneration when they link them in feeds and on their services. Google argues the code puts search habits at risk. Once the law was passed, Facebook immediately banned users in Australia from sharing, viewing, or using news articles.

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Google eased its position and made the required deals with news outlets. According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Facebook is also negotiating.

Microsoft Agrees with the Law

Microsoft and its president Brad Smith has previously said the company agrees with the law. It’s a stark contract to Google and Facebook, despite Microsoft having its own news platform (Microsoft News) and search engine (Bing).

In fact, earlier this month Smith urged the U.S. government to adopt a similar law. In a new interview, Smith reconfirmed Microsoft’s stance on the matter:

“I’m hopeful that the Biden administration will support and embrace this kind of policy to redress the imbalance between something like a search service by Google and the position of the news publishers,” he told Business Insider.

“There’s some important legislation in Congress that will enable publishers to join together and bargain collectively and give them anti-trust immunity to do so. That’s part of the Australian proposal that I think is innovative and deserves attention.”

Combatting Misinformation

He said online platforms like Google and Facebook (and Microsoft by association) must be held accountable for fake news and misinformation. Smith points to the recent US Capitol riots as an example of why accountability is so important.

“You cannot have a well-informed public without a healthy, independent base of professional journalism. So think all of these things are coming together in 2021 and they should,” he said.

It is worth noting Smith says Google and Facebook already have “good” initiatives for reimbursing news sources. Microsoft News too has given more than $1 billion to US sources through its own revenue-share program. However, Smith believes the government must be involved to help tackle fake news.

“You need to look at the economic value that in effect is being transferred, I believe, from the news industry to the tech gatekeepers simply by virtue of being able to include and make use of their news content on a search service or on a social media platform — this is where I think that we need the intervention of government,” he said.

Microsoft this week announced the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (CP2A) alongside the BBC, Intel, Truepic, and Arm. Under the C2PA coalition, the company and partners will develop open standards that allow sources to be verified.

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