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Oliver Dowden told Facebook that his decision to temporarily disconnect news sources in Australia was a “nuclear option” that should not be repeated in the UK.
The Secretary of Culture met last night with the communications chief of the social media giant, Sir Nick Clegg, to express the government’s concerns over the firm’s actions.
Mr Dowden warned Sir Nick that ministers “will not shy away from intervening to protect the interests of the public” if necessary, while the government develops measures to improve competition in the digital market.
Facebook sparked a furious dispute with the Australian government after it banned news posts on its platform over a proposed law that would force tech giants to pay for journalism.
Facebook eventually reversed the measure after politicians agreed to review the law, but the firm’s ability to disable the content of millions of users has generated growing concern around the world.
Facebook sparked a furious row with the Australian government in recent weeks after it banned news posts on its platform over a proposed law that would force tech giants to pay for journalism.
Dowden said Facebook’s actions “strengthened” his view that digital markets are not working properly.
“I am relieved that Facebook has reactivated news sources in Australia,” Dowden said after the meeting.
“Turning off the news tap on a global pandemic was a worrying move that seemed like Facebook was putting its results above the public interest.
‘I convey these concerns to Facebook and express our interest in leveling the playing field to allow proper business relationships to be formed. We must prevent these nuclear options from being taken again. ”
Mr Dowden made it clear to Sir Nick during his meeting that the UK government has not ruled out any options regarding its pro-competition regime plan for digital markets.
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The Culture Secretary intends to raise the matter during the UK G7 Summit in June, when world leaders from the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the EU will meet in Carbis Bay. , Cornwall.
In addition to a meeting with Sir Nick, who joined Facebook as vice president of global affairs and communications in October 2018, Dowden spoke with his Australian counterpart Paul Fletcher, minister of communications.
Speaking about the UK’s efforts, Mr Dowden continued: ‘We are working on a pro-competition regime that will benefit not only news publishers, but also consumers and other businesses affected by the dominance of the market for a small number of large platforms.
“The titans of technology have become the guardians of online knowledge and the custodians of virtual public squares, and the Government will not shy away from intervening to protect the interests of the public when needed.
The Culture Secretary met with the social media giant’s communications chief, Sir Nick Clegg, last night to express the Government’s concerns at the firm’s actions
‘Here in the UK, we are taking action by building a coherent and comprehensive approach to digital regulation.
‘Whether through our pro-competitive regime imposed by the new Digital Markets Unit or through our upcoming Online Safety Act, we aim to introduce fairer traffic rules.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice.
“We will prevent these companies from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of the people and companies that depend on them.”