As Australia is set to pass amendments, Facebook and Google may be required to pay for news content

 Australian senators, facing objections from some small political parties, are likely to approve changes to historic legislation to require Alphabet's Google and Facebook to pay media organisations for news material.

After Facebook last week exacerbated a controversy over the new laws by banning Australian users from posting and accessing news material on its influential social media site, the government adopted changes to the so-called Media Negotiating Code. On Wednesday, Australia's Senate started discussing the amendments. In the upper house, the ruling conservative Liberal Party does not have a majority, but support from the opposition Labor Party is anticipated to be adequate to pass the bill.

In light of the deal it had achieved with the nation, Facebook on Tuesday said it would restore Australian users' access to news.

In one big change, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will be given the right to determine that whether they make a "significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry." either Facebook or Google need not be subject to the code.

The original law allowed the tech giants to resort to compulsory arbitration if they were unable to negotiate a contractual arrangement for their material with Australian news agencies, effectively empowering the government to impose a price.

Some lawmakers are worried that the move encourages Frydenberg to exclude Facebook or Google from the current rules, even though both internet firms do not enter into agreements.

"This changes the bill significantly," said independent senator Rex Patrick, who is preparing to vote against the revised bill, to Reuters. "The big players could successfully negotiate with Facebook or Google. The minister then doesn't designate them, and all the little players miss out."

Before determining whether to impose his new authority, Frydenberg said he would allow Facebook and Google time to negotiate agreements with Australian media firms.

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