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 Google warns Australians against media law


by Daniel McCulloch

August 17, 2020 Google says services could be dramatically worse under proposed media bargaining laws.

Google has warned Australians proposed media bargaining laws could compromise their personal data and inhibit access to free services.

But the consumer watchdog has questioned the internet search giant’s claim.

In an open letter published online on Monday, Google claimed the news media bargaining code would force it to provide users with a “dramatically worse” Google Search and YouTube products.

“(The code) could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia,” Google Australia managing director Mel Silva said.

The code, drafted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, would force tech giants to pay media companies for their news.

The company claimed the code would mean Google and YouTube could not be guaranteed to show what was most relevant and helpful to users.

“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,” Ms Silva said.

“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.”

Google also claimed the laws would force the company to tell news organisations how to gain access to data about people’s use of its 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,” Ms Silva said.

She claimed Google already paid Australian news businesses millions of dollars a year, sent them billions of free clicks and had offered to pay more to license content.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said Google’s open letter contained 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,” he said.

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

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

Australian Associated Press