The Chronicle

Minister sets out rules for Big Tech


DIGITAL giants could face further regulation as the government seeks to wrestle back its digital sovereignt­y.

Addressing the National Press Club on Wednesday, Communicat­ions Minister Paul Fletcher said the news media bargaining code proved that internet companies such as Facebook and Google could accept the rule of law.

“I accept that government­s need to think carefully about how to design regulation in this new world,” he said.

“But that does not mean government­s cannot or should not regulate.

“Government­s should not give up their sovereignt­y. Yes, the digital behemoths will make all kinds of claims and threats when you impose the normal laws that apply to other businesses in your jurisdicti­on upon them.

“But ultimately, as our experience with the News Media Bargaining Code has shown, the global digital giants will accept the rule of law if they are doing business in Australia.”

While government­s all over the world are attempting to regulate big tech, companies insist they can regulate themselves. But with the rise of revenge porn, trolls and the impact digital platforms are having on traditiona­l markets, Mr Fletcher argued government­s should look to manage the risk.

“I believe strongly that the positives of the internet and technologi­cal change greatly exceed the negatives,” he said.

“I believe we can identify and manage the risks posed by the internet.”

Mr Fletcher’s address came just hours after a powerful address to the US Congress by Facebook whistleblo­wer Frances Haugen.

In her statement, the former Facebook data scientist said the company knew it steered young people toward damaging content and refused to make necessary changes to make its product safer.

“Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” Ms Haugen said.

“Congressio­nal action is needed.

“They won’t solve this crisis without your help.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia