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Varadkar: Charging Google and Facebook for news media content is a good idea

Varadkar said that while companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter create employment they are also ‘free riders on costs incurred by other people’

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Australian government’s plan to force social media companies to pay media companies for news content “seems like a good idea to me”.

Speaking at a briefing at Government Buildings on Friday, Mr Varadkar said while companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter create employment, they are also “free riders on costs incurred by other people”.

He said: “It seems to be a mechanism by which they can charge online platforms like Google and Facebook and others for their content and seems to me to be a very good idea.

“I think our tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are great companies and create a lot of employment and revenue here in Ireland.

“But they do benefit from content produced by other people and they are sort of free riders on the costs incurred by other people.”

The Australian government said on Monday that it would force Google and Facebook to pay media outlets for their content.

Mr Varadkar said: “I think the Australian approach is interesting and I think the new government will want to study that, see if it makes sense to them and see if something similar in Ireland can be done.

“I have seen in other countries, what seems to be a good idea at first may turn out not to be – but I do think it is something that we need to study and it may be a future approach that we can implement in Ireland and across Europe to share out more fairly, the revenues that media platforms of all sorts make.”

PA