Canva’s Cliff Obrecht On Facebook News Ban: “What The Government Was Doing Was Stupid”

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Cliff Obrecht, the founder of multi-billion-dollar Australian software business Canva, believes the Morrison government should have consulted tech companies before rushing to regulate Facebook.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Obrecht said he backed Facebook’s ban on news, saying the tech platform was right to act after the government moved to legislate a media bargaining code.

The code, which Facebook long maintained was unworkable, would have required it to pay media organisations for news content or risk steep fines.

The social media conglomerate instead moved to ban Australian news on its platform, inadvertently banning public health information sources, amid a pandemic, and charity pages (for which it later apologised).

“I think what the government was doing was stupid and I think good on Facebook for just saying ‘We’re not going to put up with your bullshit policies’,” Obrecht told The Herald.

“Which unfortunately means Australian consumers, Australian internet users, are going to have a poorer experience.”

He clarified that he wasn’t against tech regulation but said the Morrison government should consult internet users and start-ups before rushing to implement misguided rules, The Herald reports.

“I think the Australian government should start a real dialogue with Australian internet companies like Atlassian and us for a start and not just have these suits, who have no idea about the internet or business in general, because they are career politicians, trying to make policies for society and internet companies,” he told The Herald.

“I think they should not be doing that and should really have a good hard look at themselves.”

In addition, Obrecht said the federal government should be doing more to encourage tech companies in Australia.

“Look at the world, it’s clear with all the global emission targets, the renewable energy targets, we’re not going to have a viable business as a country just digging shit out of the ground,” he told The Herald.

“The future of Australia is going to be our intellectual economy to some degree.”

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