Google accuses Microsoft for using ‘corporate opportunism’ in media payments

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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The American technology giant Google has kicked off a public war of words last day by accusing its rival Microsoft of ‘distraction’ for joining with governments seeking to oblige tech platforms to pay media organizations for news content.

In a recent blog post, Google blamed Microsoft for trying to distract attention from a potentially destructive attack on Exchange email servers by hackers taking advantage of software vulnerabilities.

The comments were raised in between a heated battle of words over efforts in Australia and hence to require digital services to negotiate payments for news content. Google and Facebook have shown their disapproval for mandatory payments, while Microsoft has taken a more collaborative stance.

Microsoft president Brad Smith, in a letter to a congressional subcommittee hearing, accused Google’s business model of taking up ad revenue on which newsgroups rely.

In the blog post, Google senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker fired back its rival by saying that “They are now making self-serving claims and are even willing to break the way the open web works in an effort to undercut a rival. This important debate should be about the substance of the issue, and not derailed by naked corporate opportunism.”

Mr. Smith in his letter praised the role news organizations play in defending democracy and contended that the internet troubled the already ailing local news business by devouring advertising revenue and luring away paid subscribers.

Microsoft has lobbied for other countries to follow Australia’s lead in calling for news outlets to be paid for stories published online, a move which was highly opposed by Facebook and Google.

“News today is part of the technology ecosystem, and all of us who participate in this ecosystem have both an opportunity and responsibility to help journalism flourish,” Mr. Smith noted.

Meanwhile, the supporters of Google and Facebook have claimed that mandatory payments for news links would fundamentally change the way the internet works and ultimately be detrimental to free online services.

Related: Australia to make Google, Facebook pay for news; Will introduce legislation next week