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How Australia became the test bed for tech regulation


couple weeks ago, Facebook briefly turned off the ability for anyone in the world to post links from Australian news publishers. They just blocked ‘em with a little message. This is a real thing that happened. The company, along with Google, was locked into a fight with the Australian government over something called the Media Bargaining Code, which would have required social platforms and search engines to pay news publishers for linking to their work. Just linking to it. This was a big deal — it would change the way the web works. Both Google and Facebook threatened to leave Australia over the proposed law, until Google cut a deal with Australia’s biggest news organizations, and Facebook turned off their access to the news feed entirely. After a few days, the law was slightly changed, Facebook also paid the money, and access was restored.

What struck me about this is that we’d heard a lot from Google, from Facebook, and from Australian government officials, but we hadn’t really heard from anyone from the Australian tech industry. So I called up Scott Farquhar, the co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian, Australia’s biggest tech company and one of Australia’s biggest companies, period. Atlassian […]

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