The Best Summary Of Australia's News Link Tax / 'Bargaining Code'

from the the-loser,-as-always,-is-you dept

I've been somewhat amazed at the response to Facebook's decision in Australia to first block news links, in response to a dangerous new law, and then to cave in and cut deals with news organizations to pay for links. Most amazing to me is that otherwise reasonable people in Australia got very angry at me, insisting that I was misrepresenting the tax. They keep insisting it's not a tax, and that it's a "competition" response to "unfair bargaining power." Except, as I've discussed previously, there's nothing to bargain over when you should never have to pay for links. The links are free. There's no bargaining imbalance, because there's nothing to bargain over. And, it's clearly a tax if the only end result is that Google and Facebook have to fork over money because the government tells them to. That's... a tax.

Anyway, that's why I'm happy to see The Juice Media, an Australian outfit that is famous for making hilarious "Honest Government Ads", usually for the Australian government (but sometimes for elsewhere) has put out a new "ad" about the link tax in which they explain how it was a fight to take money from one set of giant rich companies, and give it to another set of giant rich companies, and not to do anything useful in between:

It's worth watching. It also highlights some of the other awful aspects of the "code" which will give news organizations more access to data, as well as advance notice of algorithmic changes that no one else gets -- allowing them to better hijack attention away from anyone else. The whole deal is dangerous and corrupt, and no one should be supporting it.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: australia, bargaining code, honest government ads, link tax, rupert murdoch
Companies: facebook, google


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 7:46pm

    It's not a tax, it's surprise mandatory wealth transferal!

    They keep insisting it's not a tax, and that it's a "competition" response to "unfair bargaining power."

    Ah yes, it can be so very unfair when the other side has something you desperately need and want but they can do just fine without you, leaving you with little to any 'bargaining power'(read: ability to dictate terms in your favor), truly the best use of government power at that point is to step in and force them to give you what you desired while giving them nothing, you know, to keep things 'fair'.

    As for the 'it's not a tax' thing I can only marvel at how hatred of a company can warp apparently someone's mind like that such that they're left trying to claim that the government demanding that one industry subsidize another doesn't count as a tax.

    Last as for the video summary edutainment gold there as expected from that lot, I especially enjoyed the part where they pointed out that the same traits people were ripping into Facebook and Google for(lots of power, pay little if any taxes, fake news) were ones shared in spades by the person/industry that was going to be on the receiving end of all that free money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 9:06pm

      It's not a tax, it's surprise mandatory wealth transferal!

      Goddammit, TOG, I didn’t know you worked at EA.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Mar 2021 @ 2:05am

      Re: It's not a tax, it's surprise mandatory wealth transferal!

      "Ah yes, it can be so very unfair when the other side has something you desperately need and want but they can do just fine without you, leaving you with little to any 'bargaining power'(read: ability to dictate terms in your favor), truly the best use of government power at that point is to step in and force them to give you what you desired while giving them nothing, you know, to keep things 'fair'."

      Also known as a Red Flag Act.

      Political protectionism at its finest.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2021 @ 7:54pm

    Could the new law be taken to court?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      RanchoCm, 27 Feb 2021 @ 7:15am

      Re: Laws =Politics

      ... any law can be challenged in court (and it's common practice).

      That procedure allows politicians in black robes to critique arbitrary rules created by politicians in suits & ties sitting in legislatures.
      It's all politics -- those with most political power win the day.

      But the broader view is that once you grant the government (Australian or otherwise) the general power to tax and to regulate general economic activity & competition -- there is no limit to what those politicians in power may choose to do.

      Those bemoaning this new little Australian government rule somehow have no fundamental objections to plenary government 'regulatory' authority over nearly all private economic activity. You can't have it both ways.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 4:21pm

      Re:

      Yes, but by who and on what grounds? The big media companies got what they want. Big tech got what they want (they just need to payoff enough of the minister's mates to avoid being classified under the code).

      The people and companies who lose out have no grounds because they only specifically lose out by not being included. And when you have Murdoch, Google, Facebook, and The Liberal Government cooking things up, you know that the people are going to lose.

      (For reference, this is the same Liberal Government that gave Murdoch's pay TV service $40M to cover underrepresented andwomen's sports, when there is a national broadcaster on free-to-air with exactly that remit, and the pay TV service needs to find content anyway.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 8:05pm

    The bullshit spun up to justify the link tax reads a lot like the bullshit spun up by the fascists that want to repeal the first amendment wrt online platforms:

    "Google and Facebook are bigger than an arbitrary size I made up, so let's exaggerate that they have sole control over the market, so we can invent blame that it's them that are responsible for news's failure in the marketplace, therefore they have no right to walk away from being forced to provide service at their own expense."

    "Facebook and twitter are bigger than an arbitrary size I made up, so let's exaggerate that they have sole control over the public square, so we can invent blame that it's them that are responsible for white supremacy's failure in the marketplace of ideas, therefore they have no right to say no to being forced to provide service at their own expense."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 8:08pm

    There's been nothing offered in support of this scam except for "Durr google evil" and the classicthief's rationalization of "You have money. I want money. Therefore you owe me. Therefore it's my right to take it from you."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2021 @ 8:21pm

    robots.txt

    So, don't want to have your stuff indexed by Google without some 'conversation' about them paying you to display it somewhere... use the robots.txt file...
    Nothing is stopping you from trying to innovate.... come up with some way to search/deliver the news better than Google.

    This whole, 'you gotta pay us' nonsense needs to stop... at some point, there's gonna be whining about not being included and that Google must include them in their search...

    And there's always putting up a paywall (you know, to make it clear that your website is not in it for long)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 8:41pm

      'Pay us or do without!' 'Do without then.' 'Hey, no fair!'

      This whole, 'you gotta pay us' nonsense needs to stop... at some point, there's gonna be whining about not being included and that Google must include them in their search...

      Oh there's already been lots of that, you need only look to the past to see the reaction to past extortion attempts like this when Google was smart enough to refuse to play along and the newspapers threw fits that they were no longer being listed on Google's services.

      How very quickly they went from 'Google is stealing from us by using snippets/links without pay us!' to 'Google is being entirely unreasonable by removing links/snippets to our stuff just because we demanded they pay for it. It's extortion, blackmail!'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 6:10am

      Re: robots.txt

      This whole, 'you gotta pay us' nonsense needs to stop...

      Before every link and comment needs a signed negotiation about payment. Have this madness spread and the web will be controlled by gate keepers, and there will be no search engines for private blogs etc.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 4:32pm

      Re: robots.txt

      Murdoch press in Australia uses a paywall, and the law prevents digital platforms from specifically excluding them to get around not having a deal.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    General I. Zing, 26 Feb 2021 @ 8:27pm

    Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

    I know that comes as shock to you, rabid Ivy League corporatist that you are.

    They're NOT persons having innate rights, because they have NO "nate" (birth). They are LEGAL FICTIONS, entirely malleable, subject to the whole panoply of commercial law, having ONLY grants of privileges.

    There is NO statute making corporations "persons". It's ONLY a decision by lawyers, not exactly wrong if just for convenience. -- Just like "qualified immunity" for cops! It's NOT statute. ONLY support for these grants of privileges comes from lawyers. -- But of course fascists / corporatists want to grab more power so keep asserting the notion.

    At any time legislators can change the "terms of service" on corporations, including completely wipe out. Takes only popular will.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      General I. Zing, 26 Feb 2021 @ 8:27pm

      Re: Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

      By the way: Facebook Australia is paying about 1.5% effective tax rate on about 3.6 BILLION profits. You think they're going to scorn over 3 billion in profits by not shelling out another percent? Sheesh. Stockholders wouldn't allow it, for start. Maz objects to ANY level of taxation on his precious fascist corporations.


      No citation is needed for facts that GOOGLE will readily come up with. Don't be stupid again, "AC_Unknown", which is just Geigner's sock-puppet. Try to form a sentence at least.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        AC Unknown (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 9:06pm

        Re: Re: Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Where is your proof of your assertions?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 9:11pm

        Maz objects to ANY level of taxation on his precious fascist corporations.

        Tax the fuck out of Facebook. Make Zuckerberg poor again, for all I give a fuck. But if a government plans to tax the mechanism upon which the Internet is built, people here will call that shit out no matter how many ridiculous (and likely projective) insults you sling towards others.

        After all, you’re the one talking about fascism in damn near the same breath as a government takeover of privately owned corporations.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 9:31pm

          It's also worth pointing out that, as noted in the video if the issue(or one of them anyway) was really about Facebook and Google not paying taxes thanks to tax loopholes in the system the proper response to that would have been to close those loopholes, but since that would likely impact other, more 'government friendly' companies/individuals a new 'tax' was implemented instead where the money could go directly to another industry/individual, showing that the objection wasn't the use of tax loopholes but that those particular companies were making use of them.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2021 @ 10:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Hey blue, I didn't know they gave you insurrectionists Internet privileges.

        Shouldn't you have died from Covid by now?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 12:42pm

        Re: Re: Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

        "No citation is needed for facts that GOOGLE will readily come up with"

        So, you're saying that you trust Google to provide evidence for their own crimes? That sounds weird. Seems to me that an honest person would provide a direct link rather than asking people to enrich the very corporation they claim is in the wrong via ad impressions, while hoping they return said evidence of their own guilt.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        bhull242 (profile), 28 Feb 2021 @ 5:51pm

        Re: Re: Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

        Masnick has never expressed opposition to generally taxing these companies or companies in general. He has said that taxing links goes against the fundamentals of the internet and makes no sense to begin with, and he may be against singling out individual companies to be taxed differently, but he’s never been against Google, Facebook, Twitter, or any other company paying the taxes it lawfully owes or in increasing existing taxes on those companies. His opposition is narrowly towards link taxes, specifically, regardless of who’s paying them or to whom or how much.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      farooge (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 10:32pm

      Re: Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

      why is this flagged as abusive/trolling spam? did he hurt someone's feelings?

      it seems wrong

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 26 Feb 2021 @ 10:47pm

        Because it's by a well known troll, the kind of person for whom 'pathological liar' is comparatively one of their more 'positive' traits and who has made it undeniably clear over the course of years that they have no interest in honest discourse, only shit-flinging.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 12:44pm

        Re: Re: Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

        "why is this flagged as abusive/trolling spam?"

        Well, apart from the personal attacks on the person who wrote the article, he's a known troll.

        Do you have any way to support what he is saying outside of the known problems with this particular troll?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Mar 2021 @ 3:23am

        Re: Re: Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

        "why is this flagged as abusive/trolling spam? did he hurt someone's feelings?"

        That troll in question has been around for many years now. His oft-repeated claims that Mike Masnick is being paid by Google and the CIA to employ astroturfers solely for the reason of arguing against him should be a hint that whenever he starts ranting about Google and Masnick what comes out will be pure tinfoil hat.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      G Thompson (profile), 28 Feb 2021 @ 8:46am

      Re: Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

      I hate to break your reality bubble but there is absolutely statute in Australia making constitutional corporations seperate legal entities. It's been enacted from a very old case called Solomons v Solomons.

      But hey. Don't let legal facts get in the way of whatever the hell you call reality.

      As for legislators changing the terms of service on corporations? What are you smoking? This clearly shows you have absolutely no clue about Australian law both Federal and State based.

      Oh and for all intensive purposes this is a tax. A very arbitrary one at that that would rely on Ministerial discretion and last time I checked Ministers don't have that power other than for a non arbitrary and proper purpose

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 28 Feb 2021 @ 6:04pm

      Re: Yes, Maz, corporations must OBEY gov'ts.

      According to the law, at least in Australia and the US, corporations do have essentially all the same rights that any permanent legal human resident would have. You say they were established by lawyers, but they were actually established by a combination of statutes/common law making corporations separate legal entities that act like persons as far as the law is concerned, the rights established in those statutes and the constitutions of the respective states/countries, and court rulings, which are legally binding. And those rulings are based upon plain readings of the relevant laws and basic logic (unlike QI, which has no basis in the text of the law itself). Changing the “terms of service”, insofar as it concerns constitutional rights and what the government can and cannot regulate, would require either the federal Supreme Court of that nation to overrule existing SC precedent in that country (which is unlikely and rarely ever happens) or for an amendment to that country’s constitution that explicitly excludes corporations from having those rights to be ratified, which is also rare and incredibly unlikely. Thus, as a practical matter, legislators cannot simply take those rights away whenever they want to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 12:02am

    Huh... didn't their country like go up in serious flames while the government when on vacation and told all of the citizens to quit fscking crying?
    Imagine if they used the link tax to pay for actual fire control programs?!

    Instead it goes to the shareholders of a vile old man who is already taking 11 of the dozen cookies & telling the white bloke that the darkie is coming for his cookie.

    Corporate welfare, b/c billionaires need more help than the little people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 4:38pm

      Re:

      Fire control programs aren't really the problem. It's climate change that's the problem.

      Unfortunately, the Ted Cruz inspiration that is our PM takes orders from Murdoch and mining magnates, who are very opposed to the notion that they get taxed for fucking up the planet

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul, 27 Feb 2021 @ 1:39am

    The "lack of competition" in tech argument as justification for these link tax laws makes me groan because there is more competition in tech than there is in news media.

    There needs to be more nuance when discussing "big tech" instead of the Trumpian blanket assertions of "big tech bad".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 4:32am

    Theoretically, I thought government (most types) was not to decide who in business is a winner and who is a loser. And yet here the Aussies are taxing two places of business and not all the other places of business in the same field/industry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jober (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 5:25am

    "there's nothing to bargain over"

    Sure there is - the attention of Australian news consumers.

    How likely is it, do you think, that Facebook will eventually roll out a "Premium" tier for people who want to click on links to newspaper articles? The grift goes on and on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 6:00am

    I made the comment earlier in the week that the questions that actually need answering are who in the government is being paid to promote this crap law? Id it Murdoch and cronies paying the government to promote this crap law? Why is it so important to take monies from facebook and give it to fox news etc? No one else is bothered except that prick Murdoch, so i guess the buck stops with him, in more ways than one! The only thing the public is worried about is not getting any news at all! The power struggle is actually Murdoch not wanting anyone else up front!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 7:31am

    Rupert Murdoch realised that despite his pest efforts, the english speaking portion of the western world hasn't been driven far enough to the right for him to be able to maintain his income and position of power and influence in the internet age. He's rich, sure, but he had his newspapers to hold over politicians as he's demonstrated he's able to bring down governments with a few calls but with their audience on the wane, he's not as scary as he used to be, so rather than outright buying politicians like the Mercers, the Kochs, Aaron Banks and others, he's using his influence to turn his propaganda outlets into a protected monopoly, a privately owned state publisher/broadcaster, that only benefits one side of the political spectrum.

    He wants his outlets to be embedded by law into the flesh of whatever new media arises like a racist tick, sucking blood while telling anyone that will listen that non white people are the reason they have problems. I look forward for the laws requiring the Fox News or other Newscorp aps be installed by default on all mobile phones and be completely unbannable from ap stores. You know that's coming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 27 Feb 2021 @ 7:53am

      Re:

      Rupert Murdoch realised that despite his pest efforts,

      With his good friend Biggus Dickus?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bloof (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 11:49am

        Re: Re:

        He prefers being called Scott Morrison these days, still a huge dick though.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 3:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Just don't call him "Scotty from Marketing" because it upsets him being called such a mean name.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            G Thompson (profile), 28 Feb 2021 @ 8:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Currently it's Scotty the Mysoginistic prick" since his marketing ability isn't going to get him.oit of the current situation him and the Cabinet are finding themselves in..

            Criminal repercussions must be scaring him silly. He might have to talk to his wife to get her advice now...again.. lol

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Professor Ronny, 27 Feb 2021 @ 11:13am

    Is it a tax?

    They keep insisting it's not a tax

    You are right but I'm not sure that tax is the right word since it is not paid to the government. I live in a state that requires car insurance. By the same logic, the check I write to Allstate every six month is also a tax.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 12:32pm

      Re: Is it a tax?

      In the case of insurance you're paying for a service so while the government is telling you to pay money for something you're actually getting something out of it, however in this case Google and Facebook are only 'getting' not getting sued and/or heavily fined. That the money may or may not make a pit stop in the government's coffers before being doled out to the buyer of the bill doesn't really change that you've got the government telling two companies that they will be paying X amount of money or bad things will happen, which certainly sounds a lot like a tax to me.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 12:45pm

      Re: Is it a tax?

      " I'm not sure that tax is the right word since it is not paid to the government."

      Technically, neither is sales tax as it is paid by the customer to the proprietor, who then pays the government.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 12:46pm

      Re: Is it a tax?

      "I live in a state that requires car insurance. By the same logic, the check I write to Allstate every six month is also a tax."

      Well, given that you legally have to have it in order to drive under the conditions of your government issued licence, I assume that argument can be made.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Leon, 27 Feb 2021 @ 2:24pm

      Re: Is it a tax?

      ... it is a mandatory "taking" of private money/assets by the government -- which meets the general definition of a Tax.

      Details of how the government "takes" the money and how it chooses to allocate that money by varied mechanisms are unimportant to the basis reality of a Tax (a government taking).

      Consider 'Minimum Wage Laws': the government forces some employers to pay extra wages to some employees because the government feels those employees were being unfairly compensated for their work. An indirect Tax is thus used to meet a government regulatory goal.

      Same thing in Australia, the government feels news companies are unfairly compensated for their products by for-profit social media companies.I
      If you favor Minimum Wage Law Taxes, then you should logically favor Austeralia's regulatory authority in this news-links case.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 3:12pm

        Re: Re: Is it a tax?

        ... what.

        'You will pay your employees at least this much' is vastly different from 'You will subsidize another industry for linking to them or including snippets of their content, and you're not allowed to refuse should you offer any similar service to others in the same industry' are not even remotely the same, so no, it is entirely possible to support the former while not supporting the latter.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 3:21pm

        Re: Re: Is it a tax?

        How will employers find an employee to work when said potential employee is not paid enough to afford rent in the area much less food.

        Well, that business will moan to their favorite politician who will then take money from everyone else and give it to that potential employee just so that employer can have an employee that said business is unable to support.

        Big Business loves them some socialism, so long as the poor have to deal with capitalism.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        G Thompson (profile), 28 Feb 2021 @ 8:59am

        Re: Re: Is it a tax?

        Minimum wage laws are in no way a tax. They are statutory minimums that an employer MUST pay to the employee. Not the govt. Income tax is paid by the employee.

        Compulsory Superannuation is also not a tax since it is legal property of the Employee. The govt has no equitable rights in it

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2021 @ 10:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Is it a tax?

          "Minimum wage laws are in no way a tax."

          Yup - Minimum wage laws are the government saying to business that there are limits to the labor cost subsidy business is receiving.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Leon, 28 Feb 2021 @ 1:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: Is it a tax?

          you miss the legal point completely.

          a government "Taking" in Anglo-American law is a compulsory seizure or transfer of a private asset to the government or a 3rd party.
          This can be done in a thousand different ways and does not always involve a direct plain money asset.

          A "Taking" may be legal or illegal depending upon the vast number of possible circumstances.

          Getting hung up on the precise definition of the general term TAX leads you completely astray on the true basis of government action and legality.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      G Thompson (profile), 28 Feb 2021 @ 8:55am

      Re: Is it a tax?

      If you are talking about CTP.. It's a tax. Our Medicare payment each payday is also a tax.

      Just because it's for a specific purpose doesn't in anyway stop it from being a tax.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Filaste (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 12:34pm

    Another Possible Viewpoint

    I haven't really followed this anywhere other than the pages of Techdirt, so there may well be plenty of available information that I don't actually know. (AKA "Disclaimer: I know nothing.") But it strikes me that this likely makes a lot more sense from a certain perspective - one probably difficult to imagine for most commenters here.

    Chances are, the people writing and passing - and demanding - this law probably didn't come to computers, let alone the internet, as early as we did. I'd lay good odds that many of them never had a 56k modem. So, they probably don't remember the days when your best bet for actually reaching the site you wanted was to type in its address. They probably don't remember when the address bar actually was an address bar and not a search bar, and if you typed in "blue cheese" then it threw an error at you rather than sending you to Google "blue+cheese" search results (by default - mine sends me to DuckDuckGo, but that's really not the point).

    My bet would be that to many of these people, Google and Facebook literally are the Internet. Sure, they may know that somewhere there are some servers, and ISPs, and if you're really lucky they may know (sort of) what an IP address is and that something called DNS exists. But when you don't know anything much about computers, when you type into your "address bar" and get back a screen that says "Google", and when you go to every "page" via something that says "Facebook" and never sign out - when those little "like" buttons are ubiquitous and everywhere so that everything is clearly plugged in and part of it - is it really any wonder that you actually would think that Google and Facebook together are in fact the entire Internet, its infrastructure and its operations? That "www.xyznewssite.com" is a strange personal hive-off of part of the larger Google/Facebook entity that they see as the Internet, rather than an honest-to-goodness separate and distinct entity? So that not appearing on Google/Facebook is, to them, what we would understand as cutting off your DNS resolution? After all, under this schema, under which they were quite likely introduced to the Internet, typing in the address bar gives you only Google - so, if you type in "XYZ News Site" and XYZ News Site doesn't appear, it clearly isn't on the internet. Which means Google/Facebook has taken XYZ News off the Internet!!!

    When I was very much younger, because AOL (remember those guys?!) had its own internal browser, its own news, its own forums that you got to by clicking menu options rather than typing a web address, and so on, I was pretty sure that what you got on AOL probably was a subset of the Internet that I could also access through Internet Explorer, but I wasn't sure how one would actually go about doing that.
    (I was young, okay?)

    So now the problem becomes, from this messed-up perspective, not "newspapers shouldn't get free traffic", but "if newspapers have to be on the internet to be relevant in modern society, the internet shouldn't be making money from their having to be on the internet in a way that the papers themselves can't, since the internet holds a monopoly over the internet". That the same company apparently owns all those papers and is super influential certainly doesn't help either, of course.

    None of this makes it any better an idea, or any less stupid, or anything like that. But perhaps it might go some way to explaining why it's happened? I suspect this level of tech illiteracy is likely to be a large part of the root problem at work here... and in many, many other similar cases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 1:00pm

      it might go some way to explaining why it's happened?

      Ignorance isn’t an excuse for making bad law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Filaste (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 1:21pm

        Re:

        Oh no, not at all! As I said, "None of this makes it any better an idea, or any less stupid, or anything like that." People who don't know how something works really shouldn't be legislating on it! (Not that we can actually avoid that, given the sheer number of things there are to know about... but they should at least try.) But I always figure trying to understand a problem may help some towards trying to avoid it recurring in future.

        That, and I think it's good practice to try and see things from other perspectives, however dumb. Most people aren't evil in their own eyes, so sometimes trying to look through those eyes can be useful. In some cases, one perspective is clearly wrong (being built on false assumptions, for example, such as the one I hypothesise above), while in other cases it may be a fundamental matter of conflicting values. But it's very difficult to solve a problem (even/especially one involving human beings) without first attempting to understand it.

        But hey, I'm just another pseudonymous blurb on the Internet. What do I know? :)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Canuck, 27 Feb 2021 @ 2:05pm

          Re: Re:

          Respectfully, you don't know shit. Just follow the money.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 2:30pm

          it's very difficult to solve a problem … without first attempting to understand it

          Your problem was assuming nobody here has tried to understand it. We have — repeatedly.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Mar 2021 @ 3:36am

          Re: Re:

          "That, and I think it's good practice to try and see things from other perspectives, however dumb. Most people aren't evil in their own eyes, so sometimes trying to look through those eyes can be useful."

          There is a major issue in that as bad as pure, unadulterated evil may be in an office holder, stupidity and ineptitude is often worse.
          Russians, for example, like to complain about Putin...privately and very quietly. But they are unanimous in that he's infinitely preferable to Yeltzin. At least under Putin the economy works and people have access to education, food, and health care.

          The ineptitude of the australian government in both this and previous legislation has effectively shut the door on any development of IT businesses or infrastructure for the foreseeable future. Their motivation for this really doesn't matter - only the result, which is horrifying.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Feb 2021 @ 2:04pm

      Sometimes it IS malice

      None of this makes it any better an idea, or any less stupid, or anything like that. But perhaps it might go some way to explaining why it's happened? I suspect this level of tech illiteracy is likely to be a large part of the root problem at work here... and in many, many other similar cases.

      Ignorance might be part of it but I've long moved past the point of giving politicians the benefit of the doubt in assuming they're just stupid, and in this case there would seem to be a much simpler, much more plausible explanation for why two companies are facing demands to subsidize a selection of another industry: Blatant corruption.

      Someone made a few calls, issued a few regretful comments about how things are looking bad and 'donations' might not be able to continue at the rate they have been and all of a sudden you've got all the motivation and explanation needed for the sudden extortion attempt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2021 @ 3:11am

      Re: Another Possible Viewpoint

      " the internet shouldn't be making money from their having to be on the internet in a way that the papers themselves can't, since the internet holds a monopoly over the internet". "

      the internet ... wut?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2021 @ 3:36pm

    It's the, "We'll Do Anything to Suck Up to and Keep Rupert Happy Bill."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2021 @ 3:39pm

    The simplest answer is to tell the news media that you will pay $10 every time a customer clicks a link to their newspaper. And you will only put the words "headline by Sun Newspaper...click to view it", multiple times.

    Then put up a MASSIVE paywall and make the customer fork over $10 for clicking the link...no pay...no link activation.

    Anyone seeing "pay $10 to click this link" will just go somewhere else.

    Sorted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2021 @ 4:18am

    The government and media very successfully framed it as a debate about "payment for news content" rather than a "link tax". Australians heard the former description ad nauseam and would've rarely encountered "link tax" or similar labels outside of circles that are tech-savvy and/or suspicious of News Corp.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
.

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.