Facebook and Google have hired lobbyists to oppose a bipartisan-backed bill aimed at helping marginalized news publishers, including Black media, which suffer disproportionately from lack of advertisement. Here are three things to know about the bill.
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), which is also known as Bill H.R. 1735, was re-introduced on March 10 by Democratic Rep. David Cicilline. Its purpose is “provide a temporary safe harbor for publishers of online content to collectively negotiate with dominant online platforms regarding the terms on which content may be distributed.”
According to Mashable, the bill would help news publishers get paid by Facebook and Google for using its content by protecting news organizations from antitrust laws and give them a four-year window to collectively negotiate with the social media giants.
Currently this isn’t the case and both companies are making massive, multi-billion dollar profits from advertising sales without creating original content, but rather using pre-existing content from other news publishers.
This isn’t the bill’s first rodeo. It was initially introduced in 2019 but did not receive a vote. Facebook and Google are not happy about its resurgence and while Google didn’t make an official public comment on the legislation, it did create a website showing how it supports journalism and the news industry.
“The internet was built on the ability to link freely between websites, which allows people to easily browse the internet. Changing this would fundamentally break the way the open web works, and how people use Google Search,” the website states. “This is why we and many others are concerned by some proposals that would require news publishers to be paid just for showing links to their sites from a Google search results page.”
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The tech giants are also being supported by two industry trade groups, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and NetChoice, Reuters reported.
“Objective news coverage is a public good, but we don’t think the way to fund that public good is by constructing a cartel,” CCIA President Matt Schruers said.
Congress has long expressed concern that big tech companies are wielding “monopoly power.” This bill underscores those concerns. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, New York Republican Rep. Ken Buck and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are among the lawmakers to back the bill.
“We must enable news organizations to negotiate on a level playing field with the big tech companies if we want to preserve a strong and independent press,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation will improve the quality of reporting and ensure that journalists are able to continue their critical work.”