New Delhi, June 9
In a major development, the government has prepared a new draft legislation that seeks to regulate the Internet, prevent online user harm and, in a first, create provisions to make big tech pay news publishers for the content they funnel on their platforms.
The Digital India Bill, to be opened for public consultations this month, will aim at creating mechanisms whereby social media giants who make money by funnelling news into their feed would need to share their revenue with the original publishers of that news.
Speaking to The Tribune on Friday, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Technology, said the matter would be dealt with as part of the Digital India Bill consultations.
Social media giants funnelling news
I have said social media giants that make money by funnelling news into their feed must give a fair share of the revenue to the news publishers. This issue will be covered as part of the consultations on the Digital India Bill. —Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Minister
“I have said that social media giants that make money by funnelling news into their feed must give a fair share of the revenue to the news publishers. This issue will be covered as part of the consultations on the Digital India Bill,” the minister said.
The government has been stressing the need to address what it calls an “imbalance of dynamics between content creation and its monetisation and the power that advertising tech firms and platforms hold today.”
The Digital News Publishers Association has long sought its share in the revenue that social media players like Google and Facebook generate by funnelling their content. The association is demanding payments by content aggregators in the context of the future of journalism and flailing financial health of the news industry. Their argument is that the original creators of content must get a share of the revenue from big tech that act as aggregators of news content which others create. Chandrashekhar’s remarks that the Digital India Bill will seek to settle the above tricky issue is significant considering India currently has no law to make Google, Facebook and other social media platforms pay for news they host on their platforms.
The Australian Parliament had in February 2021 enacted the “News Media and Digital Platform Mandatory Bargaining Code” requiring global digital companies to pay for local news content.
The Digital India Bill as a whole will address a range of online safety issues with the principal objective being prevention of user harm.
Chandrashekhar said the government was particularly exercised with preventing 11 forms of materials on the online space. These included pornography, material with potential to incite people on the basis of religion, content inimical to India’s unity and integrity, banned online games and fake profiling.
“With criminality and user harm rising, it is debatable whether blanket anonymity in the online space can be permitted. This anonymity is being used to spread misinformation...,” the minister said.
Association raising demand for long
The Digital News Publishers Association has long sought its share in the revenue that social media players like Google and Facebook generate by funnelling their content
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