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Google and ACCC Issue Statements Over Australian Antitrust Laws

Michael Behr

,

Google

Google’s claim that a proposed Australian law will result in an inferior Google Search and YouTube service has been denounced as ‘misinformation’ by the ACCC.

Google has criticised Australia’s proposed antitrust laws in an open letter addressed to the Australian public. The statement claimed that the regulations would hurt how Australians use Google Search and YouTube.

The law “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,” said the statement, signed by Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva.

The new law, the News Media Bargaining Code, from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will make Facebook and Google pay smaller news organisations for content published on their platform.

The code aims to address the bargaining power imbalance between small news publishers and major digital platforms and bring about fair payment for news.

Should it pass, the antitrust law would be the first time that a country has required Facebook and Google to pay for news.

The internet tech giant claimed that Australia’s free search service would be “at risk” and that users’ personal data could be shared if Google has to pay news organisations for their content.

“The law would force us to give an unfair advantage to one group of businesses – news media businesses – over everyone else who has a website, YouTube channel or small business. News media businesses alone would be given information that would help them artificially inflate their ranking over everyone else, even when someone else provides a better result,” said the statement.

The statement added that Google will be obligated to tell news media businesses how they can access data about how people use of Google’s products. “There’s no way of knowing if any data handed over would be protected, or how it might be used by news media businesses,” the statement said.

The statement is being targeted at Australians in a series of pop-up ads, linking them to the Google open letter.

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In turn, the ACCC has responded to Google’s criticism, claiming that the statement “contains misinformation about the draft news media bargaining code.

“Google will not be required to charge Australians for the use of its free services such as Google Search and YouTube, unless it chooses to do so.

“Google will not be required to share any additional user data with Australian news businesses unless it chooses to do so.”

The ACCC added that the draft antitrust code will allow Australian news businesses to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists’ work that is included on Google services.

Consultation work closes on the 28th of August, with the ACCC promising to continue working on the draft code with interested parties, including Google.

Michael Behr

Senior Staff Writer

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