Showdown between Facebook and Australia

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Facebook Inc FB.O will be “weakened” if it stops Australians from sharing news so the company can avoid paying for content under proposed laws, Australia’s top antitrust regulator said on Thursday.

Australia has proposed forcing Facebook and internet search giant Google GOOGL.O to pay local media outlets for content, drawing strong opposition from the U.S. companies in a dispute that is being watched by regulators and news organisations around the world.

Facebook said this month it would stop Australians from sharing local and international news on its website if the proposal becomes law. The company and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are still negotiating before the regulator makes a formal recommendation to the government.

“It would be a shame for Australian democracy (and) it would be a shame for Facebook users if they took that course of action,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a speech delivered via Zoom.

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