U.S. sees Facebook dispute as a matter between companies and Australia -State Dept

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price holds news briefing at State Department in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States considers Australia’s dispute with Facebook Inc a business negotiation between private companies and the Australian government, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

U.S. ally Australia is locked in a pitched battle with Facebook. The U.S.-based social media giant blocked news feeds and other pages – including those of charities, and health and emergency services – as part of a dispute over a proposed law that would require Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay news outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms, or agree on a price through arbitration.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed on Friday to press ahead with the law, saying he had received support from world leaders.

Asked at a news briefing whether that included support from the United States, State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular news briefing, “This is a business negotiation between multiple private companies and the Australian government. Any questions on the status and implications of private business decisions should be directed towards those companies.”

(Reporting by Simon Lewis, Humeyra Pamuk, Daphne Psaledakis and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)

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