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Google slams Australia’s proposed new media bargaining code

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on August 17, 2020

Google says the new code will give unfair advantage to media companies   -  AFP

Google has slammed the new media bargaining code drafted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and backed by the federal government, calling it “unfair.”

Google is now flashing a message that leads to an ‘open letter to Australians’ drafted by Melanie Silva, Managing Director, on behalf of Google Australia, to users in the country.

“We need to let you know about new Government regulation that will hurt how Australians use Google Search and YouTube,” reads the letter.

The Australian government on April 20 directed the ACCC to draft a mandatory code of conduct “to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook,” the ACCC had said in an official release. It had then released a draft code for public consultation on July 31.

“The draft code would allow news media businesses to bargain individually or collectively with Google and Facebook over payment for the inclusion of news on their services,” it said.

The code also includes a set of ‘minimum standards’ for: “providing advance notice of changes to algorithmic ranking and presentation of news; appropriately recognising original news content, and providing information about how and when Google and Facebook make available user data collected through users’ interactions with news content,” it added.

‘Unfair advantage’

According to the letter penned by Silva, this would provide an unfair advantage to media companies over other website owners and small businesses. It would further put user data at risk while hurting certain free services, the letter read.

“A proposed law, the News Media Bargaining Code, would force us to provide you with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube, could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia,” wrote Silva.

“We partner closely with Australian news media businesses — we already pay them millions of dollars and send them billions of free clicks every year. We’ve offered to pay more to license content. But rather than encouraging these types of partnerships, the law is set up to give big media companies special treatment and to encourage them to make enormous and unreasonable demands that would put our free services at risk,” she added.

Published on August 17, 2020

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