Google says newly proposed Australian law threatens free services

Google and the Australian government are at loggerheads when it comes to the new law that is being proposed for the country and its media, publishers and content creators.

More specifically the law would allow publishers whose content features on Google’s free services like Search and YouTube to bargain for a better rate when linked to.

The law is still under proposal and has not been enacted yet, but Google is less than keen for it to be adopted, especially as the company has already fought similar laws in France and Spain.

Google argues that such a law would impact the availability of its free services in the country.

“There are several areas that deeply concern us about this proposed law because it prioritises the traditional news industry over smaller creators of content and the platforms where they find an audience,” explained Gautam Anand, head of YouTube APAC in an open letter to its community.

Some of the areas highlighted by Anand include potentially making Google obliged to give larger publishers access to data and information that could be used to influence Search rankings. Added to this would be larger publishers demanding bigger payouts from platforms like YouTube over and above what they already earn via ads, according to Anand.

“The imbalances created by this proposed law could potentially affect all types of Australian creators, far beyond those who focus on news: from vloggers, to educational creators, to music artists and beyond,” he adds.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), took exception to this open letter, and issued a response earlier today, noting that there were some inconsistencies and misinformation within some of Anand’s assertions.

Namely that Google will not be required to share user data or pay larger sums to publishers if it does not want to.

The ACCC is also of the belief that this proposed law would be to the benefit of all.

“This will address a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook,” it highlighted in its response.

“A healthy news media sector is essential to a well-functioning democracy. We will continue to consult on the draft code with interested parties, including Google,” it concludes.

Whether Google is willing to sit at the bargaining table regarding this law, remains to be seen, but the firm has stated that plans as far as how its creator community can have its say on the matter, will be shared in coming days.

Either way it will interesting to see how this situation plays out, and whether it does have the positive impact that the ACCC says it will. It will also prove interesting to see whether Google would indeed go the route of pulling its free services in Australia.

[Image – Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash]


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