Big Tech: Former Facebook Australia CEO on Australia's media law
Updated 02:23, 15-Mar-2021
The Agenda


Earlier this year, Australia passed a landmark media law forcing digital platforms like Facebook and Google to pay local media outlets to link their content in people's news feeds and search results.

It's a considerable first step on the long road to regulation but will it set a precedent for making Big Tech to pay for journalism in other countries?

Stephen Scheeler, the former CEO for Facebook in Australia & New Zealand joins The Agenda with Stephen Cole to explain how the new law can be seen as a victory for both Facebook and the Australian government.


As well as being the former CEO for Facebook in Australia & New Zealand, Stephen Scheeler has had over 25 years of experience in e-commerce, media and technology.

Scheeler is the founder of global advisory The Digital CEO, a senior advisor to McKinsey & Company, and executive-in-residence at the Australian Graduate School of Management.


"The dead hand of regulation can impinge on creativity," says Scheeler, "but monopolies also tend to impinge on innovation."

The key is finding a balance somewhere in the middle, because "we've seen that leaving it to self-regulation is probably not the right solution.

"We need more regulation across the board for Big Tech in different countries."


Scheeler's message is that although there is a shared concern over the growing size and power of Big Tech, there is also a surprising lack of global cooperation when it comes to regulating it.

"These big companies have more power and more data and influence on how opinions are formed in different countries," he says. "However, regulation works on a country-by-country basis. This works to the advantage of Big Tech, because they can fight fires on lots of different fronts."

It's a long road to regulation, he says, and these companies know what they're doing. "They run out the clock on politicians and political regimes," he reveals. "Facebook and Google are going to be around decades from now but most governments won't be here in a few years."


Stephen Cole speaks to Jonathan Taplin, the author of Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy. Having worked with the likes of Martin Scorsese and Bob Dylan, Taplin explains the cultural impact of allowing platforms like YouTube to expand without proper regulation.

And as regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are struggling to agree on the best way to regulate Big Tech, two veteran tech journalists Steven Levy and Kate Russell discuss who we can trust with our data.


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