TThe Senate Judiciary Committee is one vote away from dealing a needed blow to Big Tech’s unduly inflated bottom line and its ability to control the information people are allowed to see.
Senators meet Thursday at 10 a.m. to vote on the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which creates an antitrust waiver for small publishers who want to work together to get big tech to pay them more for their content.
Google and Facebook are currently exploiting a monopoly in online advertising, ie publishers, including the Washington Examiner, are withheld from revenue that is rightfully theirs. For every dollar spent on online advertising, Google and Facebook keep about half. Because of this, traffic to news sites, while up 40% since 2014, has fallen by 58%.
If small publishers are allowed to merge, Big Tech will be forced to let those who actually create news content get more of the revenue their efforts generate.
Australia passed a similar law last year, forcing Google and Facebook to pay news publishers over $140 million. No wonder Google and Facebook have spent millions of dollars lobbying against similar laws here in America.
Some senators are skeptical of the bill and have voiced valid concerns. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), for example, this month offered an amendment that would prevent content moderation from being protected by the antitrust exemption. “If you’re negotiating the alleged harm targeted by the law, which is an inability to monetize your content, you shouldn’t be negotiating content moderation and how you’re going to censor material content,” he said.
We agree, as does Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), a co-sponsor of the legislation. “I have no problem with that,” Kennedy said in response to Cruz. “That just makes clear what I thought was implied.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a major sponsor of the bill, also agreed with the substance of Cruz’s amendment, but not with the exact wording. A majority of senators on the committee clearly want small publishers to be able to keep more of the revenue Big Tech takes from them, and not have Big Tech the power to censor the press as a negotiating tactic. Senators just have to come up with the exact language to make that clear.
We recommend that the bill specifically exclude any discussion of “curation,” “distribution,” “suppression,” “ranking,” “labeling,” and “fact checking.” No One Outside of Silicon Valley Wants Big Tech Censorship The above are included on the list of non-negotiables, Big Tech will not be able to use this legislation to censor what the publishers say.
News creators deserve to keep more of the revenue their content generates. Google and Facebook don’t pay journalists to ask tough questions. We also have no interest in giving Google and Facebook power over what we publish – quite the opposite.
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, with an amendment clarifying that the content of content produced by publishers is non-negotiable, would be an important review of Big Tech’s abuse and power, and a win for the First Amendment freedom press .