Google battles Australia’s proposal for antitrust laws

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Representational Image

Internet giant Google has expressed its disagreement with the proposed Australian antitrust laws claiming that its free search service would be “at risk.”

They warned that the personal data of users could be shared if they are mandated to pay for their access to contents from news organizations.

The US tech giant said the law may push it to give confidential data about systems to big news firms that might use it to inflate their search ranking artificially, resulting in fewer views for smaller business content.

Further, it would also help large media companies to lure more viewers to their platforms and give them an unfair advantage over small publishers and users of Google’s streaming website, YouTube.

YouTube video service allows individuals and businesses to create channels that feature advertising that generate revenue for both them and YouTube.

The announcement, posted on Google’s main search page, signals an escalation of tensions between big tech firms and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that has called for drastic reforms to rein in how Google and social media giant Facebook use local content and customer data.

Mel Silva Image“You’ve always relied on Google Search and YouTube to show you what’s most relevant and helpful to you. We could no longer guarantee that under this law.”

Mel Silva
MD, Google Australia.

In the open letter, she added that the proposed law would not only have an impact on how Google and YouTube work with news media companies – it would have an impact on all our Australian users.

Following this, the ACCC accused Google of publishing “misinformation” and said the regulation would not require the US company to charge Australians for its services or share any personal data.

The proposed law would allow Australian media organizations to seek equal payment for the work of their journalists included in Google Services, said ACCC.

At the end of July, Australia had said it aimed to introduce laws requiring technology companies such as Google and Facebook to pay for news content to media companies.

The decision was prompted by the fact that revenue from advertising in the media corporations has decreased significantly in the internet era. Government statistics show that, for every $71.93 spent on online advertising in Australia, excluding classifieds, nearly a third goes to Google and Facebook.