Facebook has defied Australia’s push to make Big Tech pay for news by banning the sharing of content on its platform in the country, the most far-reaching restrictions it has ever placed on publishers in any part of the world.
The extreme step to remove Australian news came as Google separately struck a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, defusing a long-running dispute between the two companies.
The dramatically different approaches mark a watershed moment for the media industry, which had hoped Australia’s tough regulatory approach would help reset its terms of trade with Google and Facebook worldwide.
The moves by Google and Facebook came on the day Australia, the cradle of the Murdoch media empire, began debating laws that would force big online platforms to license news. (FT)
The Financial Times has been your guide to the pandemic since the first outbreak was detected over a year ago. Here are some of the developments we were reporting on a year ago today. Follow the latest on our live blog.
North Koreans charged in cyber-hack spree Three North Korean computer programmers have been charged in the US with conspiring to steal and extort more than $1.3bn in money and cryptocurrency from banks and other companies through state-sponsored cyber hacks. (FT)
Myanmar protesters accuse China of backing coup plotters Members of a nationwide civil disobedience movement opposing Myanmar’s coup are venting their anger at China, which protesters accuse of helping the generals who overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi. On Wednesday demonstrators staged the largest protest since the February 1 coup. (FT, Al Jazeera)
Texas winter storm blackouts hit chip production The Arctic weather sweeping through Texas is threatening to exacerbate a global shortage in semiconductors, after several manufacturing plants near Austin were forced to shut down. Texans are demanding answers after the state’s energy infrastructure proved no match for this week’s cold blast. US oil prices topped $61 a barrel in early trading on Wednesday. (FT)
Boost for India’s #MeToo as journalist cleared of defamation Priya Ramani, who faced two years in prison if convicted, was cleared of criminal defamation on Wednesday after publicly accusing an erstwhile government minister of impropriety. (FT)
HK stock trading volumes jump to 4 times those of LSE Stock trading volumes in Hong Kong have soared to four times those on London’s main exchange as investors, mostly from China, poured about $50bn into shares listed in the Asia finance hub this year amid soaring appetite for technology and health stocks. (FT)
New York state sues Amazon over alleged Covid safety breaches New York’s attorney-general has sued Amazon over claims it failed to protect its employees adequately during the coronavirus pandemic, days after the ecommerce giant accused Letitia James of overstepping her authority. (FT)
Berkshire reveals bets on Verizon and Chevron Warren Buffett’s conglomerate disclosed multibillion-dollar stakes in telecoms company Verizon and oil and gas major Chevron on Tuesday — investments it had previously kept confidential. (FT)
Jimmy Lai bail hearing A new bail request from the media mogul, who was charged under the new national security law, will be heard by the Court of First Instance Judge Anthea Pang on Thursday after Hong Kong’s top court rescinded a previous judge’s decision to free Lai. (SCMP)
Robinhood heads to the Hill The inner workings of the stocks trading industry will receive a public airing on Thursday when Washington lawmakers grill the key protagonists in January’s amateur trading frenzy. Here’s what to expect. Meanwhile, the surge of amateur investors’ stock bets also boosted returns of some fund managers. (FT)
Nasa set to land rover and mini helicopter on Mars The largest and most sophisticated vehicle ever sent to Mars is set to land on the red planet on Thursday, beginning a two-year mission that will search for signs of life and prepare the way for future human visits. (FT)
The two-day FT Business of Football summit, exploring how the business of the sport is adapting in challenging times, begins on Wednesday. Sign up here.
China’s new digital currency Chinese authorities in several cities have marked the lunar new year with “digital renminbi” red packets, in a trial for a crucial new technology that could lead the world’s adoption of digital currencies and set global technical standards. (FT)
India’s farm reforms fail to tackle growers’ sluggish incomes At the heart of India’s agricultural challenge, some experts say, is the fact that most Indians are constrained in how much they can afford to spend on more nutritious food, writes Amy Kazmin. Until more Indians can afford to eat better, farmers’ aspirations will be difficult to realise. (FT)
Lukashenko reasserts his grip on Belarus After protesters flooded on to the streets last summer over Alexander Lukashenko’s claim to have won a fraud-riddled election, it briefly looked like the leader’s repressive reign might be coming to an end. But with the street demonstrations now largely extinguished, murmurs of reform have ceased. (FT)
Britney Spears: our part in her downfall The new documentary Framing Britney Spears shines a light on the misogynistic treatment Spears faced throughout her career. The irony of celebrity worship is that as we scour their lives for evidence that, as US Weekly’s popular feature puts it, “Stars — They’re Just Like US!” It’s easy to forget that they break like us, too. (FT)
Globalisation 2.0: the new rules of connection The fact that digital information is moving quickly across borders does not necessarily mean that empathy and understanding are rising as well, writes Gillian Tett. In the Covid-19 era, extreme globalisation has suddenly collided with stark localisation, creating a confusing mix. (FT)
My night with Frank Lloyd Wright In the Pennsylvania woods, visitors can tour some of the architect’s seminal buildings — and a lucky few can stay the night. To join the exclusive club, FT’s Katrina Manson visited Polymath Park, an architectural haven amid the forests of Westmoreland County, created by Tom and Heather Papinchak. (FT)
Trawling for a sustainable future with smarter nets Commonly used bottom-trawling commercial nets can wreck the sea floor and waste huge amounts of unwanted or undersized fish, caught alongside target species. Now French researchers are pioneering smart, AI nets with cameras, able to identify, sort and separate a catch before it’s landed.