LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) ‘s attempt to block all media content in Australia is a surprisingly irresponsible attempt to harass a democracy and will add to the determination of lawmakers around the world to be tough on the tech giants, a senior UK lawmaker said.
“This action – this bully boy action – that you have been doing in Australia is what I think will create a desire to move forward among lawmakers around the world,” said Julian Knight, Chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media Committee and UK Parliament Sports Reuters.
“We represent people, and I’m sorry, but you can’t do a bulldozer over it – and if Facebook thinks it will, it will face the same anger as big oil and tobacco in the long run,” Knight said .
The social media giant shocked Australia on Thursday when it blocked all media content from its platform, leading to a staggering escalation of a dispute with the government over payment for content.
The move came after the Scott Morrison government drafted a law mandating Facebook and Google (NASDAQ:TogetL) Do commercial deals with news agencies whose links direct traffic to their platforms, or undergo forced arbitration to negotiate a price.
“If you add value from carrying trusted sources of information – just as you add value from streaming music, for example – those who wear them and then sell advertisements should pay for them,” Knight said.
“I think they are almost using Australia as a force test for global democracies to see if they want to curtail their business operations or correct their business operations within markets. In my opinion, we are all behind Australia.”
When asked if Facebook and other tech giants have gotten too big for their boots, Knight said, “That’s the understatement of the century, isn’t it?”
“The way you approach the tech giants positively is by looking at the competition,” he said.