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Lawmakers want news outlets to team up against Facebook, Google

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Lawmakers in Congress are reportedly drafting a bill that would let news publishers team up against Facebook and Google.

The House Judiciary Committee plans to roll out legislation in the coming weeks to allow small American news organizations to collectively bargain with the two tech titans, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), the panel’s top Republican, told Reuters.

The reported bill would add to the growing regulatory pressure on Facebook and Google, which have been accused of putting news outlets in a chokehold by using their content without proper compensation.

The battle reached a fever pitch in Australia this week when Facebook blocked users there from sharing news content in response to a proposed law that would let publishers negotiate payments from tech giants for the use of their content that appears in search results or news feeds.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colorado)
Rep. Ken Buck
Getty Images

Buck told Reuters the forthcoming US legislation would be similar to a 2019 bill that would have enabled small publishers to negotiate with Facebook and Google together without running afoul of antitrust laws.

That measure reportedly was co-sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel.

“The biggest threat to the free market economy is big tech and it (potential legislation) should be fairly tightly focused on that,” Buck told Reuters.

Google has already negotiated deals to pay media groups around the world for their content, including News Corp., which owns The Post and the Wall Street Journal.

A spokesperson for Buck did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Friday.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before a House committee in 2019.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before a House committee in 2019.

News of the bill came after another House panel announced plans to haul in three Big Tech CEOs for yet another round of congressional testimony.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google chief Sundar Pichai and Twitter boss Jack Dorsey will appear before the Energy and Commerce Committee on March 25 to discuss “misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms,” lawmakers announced Thursday.

All three men were grilled by the Senate Commerce Committee in October. Dorsey and Zuckerberg returned for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in November.

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