ACCC fires back at Google ‘misinformation’

James Riley
Editorial Director

Australia’s competition watchdog has publicly rebuked search giant Google, accusing the company of spreading misinformation about a draft news media bargaining code.

Google on Monday published an open letter warning that services like Google search and YouTube would be “dramatically worse” under a proposed set of regulations aimed at securing revenue arrangements that would compensate media companies for the work of the journalists they employ.

The company also warned Australians that its “free” services would be put at risk, and that YouTube content creators and influencers may have their ability to earn money through the site would be inhibited.

The company has launched a public awareness campaign that includes pop-up messages and links to information on all Google searches in Australia.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission fired back late on Monday, saying a healthy news media sector is essential to a well-functioning democracy and that it would continue to consult on the draft code with all interested parties, including Google.

The consultation period for the proposed code closes on August 28.

“The open letter published by Google today contains misinformation about the draft news media bargaining code which the ACCC would like to address,” the commission said in a public statement.

“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,” it said.

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

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

The draft code aimed to address the significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook.

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