We'd rather go down in Down Under, says Google: Search biz threatens to quit Australia if forced to pay for news

Meanwhile, web giant agrees to cough up euros to French publishers


Google threatened to shut down its search service in Australia if the government passes legislation that forces Google and Facebook to pay publishers Down Under for reusing their news content.

The News Media Bargaining Code, proposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last year, would give publishers the rights to bargain individually or collectively with Google and Facebook over how much they should be compensated whenever their articles appear on the tech goliaths' platforms. We're talking snippets of stories in search results and link previews, up to whole articles.

The code also requires Google et al to alert media organizations ahead of any changes in content-ranking algorithms and in how news articles will be presented, and advise publishers of the upcoming updates.

The Aussie government says this is all to protect its nation's journalism industry. At a Senate hearing on Friday in Canberra, both Silicon Valley giants argued back, with Google threatening to cut off Google Search for all of Australia if the proposed code became law and was enforced.

Sydney, Australia

Google rejects Australia’s revised pay-for-news plan, proposes its own plan instead

READ MORE

“The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to Search,” Mel Silva, VP of Google Australia and New Zealand, said in her opening statement at the hearing. “Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”

Considering more than 90 per cent of the world uses Google Search, that would be quite a blow to Oz's netizens, who would have to turn to other search engines like Bing or DuckDuckGo. If Google does, indeed, block off its search operation in Australia, it’d have to give up the revenues it makes off advertising Down Under.

“That would be a bad outcome not just for us, but for the Australian people, media diversity and small businesses who use Google Search,” Silva added. She argued that accepting the legislation would set an “untenable precedent” for its business.

The French method

Getting companies like Google and Facebook to pay publishers for their news isn’t too crazy of an idea. France passed a law that requires Google to negotiate with and pay publishers for reusing content under European Union copyright rules. In fact, Google announced it had agreed to do just that earlier this week. “[The] agreement with [Alliance de la Presse d'Information Générale] is a major step forward,” Sébastien Missoffe, CEO of Google France, said in a statement.

“It confirms Google's commitment to compensate publishers appropriately under French law, and opens up new opportunities for our publisher partners. We are happy to contribute to the development of news publishers in the digital age, to further support journalism.”

The deal, however, only applies to publishers participating in Google’s News Showcase, a product announced last year that curates articles from selected publications. We're not on the list but if anyone wants to put in a good word for us, don't let us stop you [our invite probably got lost in the post – ed.]

Given Google played ball in France, and is threatening to pull the plug in Australia, we can only assume the ads giant is acting tough to sway the legislative process in its favor Down Under.

Head of Facebook Australia & New Zealand Will Easton, meanwhile, said that “more work is needed to incentivise open commercial negotiations rather than an untested and unpredictable arbitration approach” detailed under Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code.

“We believe that deals reflecting genuine commercial value from both publishers and Facebook can still be reached before applying serious penalties under the law. We urge the government to address the unworkable components of this law.”

Google and Facebook declined to comment further. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Google battles bots, puts Workspace admins on alert
    No security alert fatigue here

    Google has added API security tools and Workspace (formerly G-Suite) admin alerts about potentially risky configuration changes such as super admin passwords resets.

    The API capabilities – aptly named "Advanced API Security" – are built on top of Apigee, the API management platform that the web giant bought for $625 million six years ago.

    As API data makes up an increasing amount of internet traffic – Cloudflare says more than 50 percent of all of the traffic it processes is API based, and it's growing twice as fast as traditional web traffic – API security becomes more important to enterprises. Malicious actors can use API calls to bypass network security measures and connect directly to backend systems or launch DDoS attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Google: How we tackled this iPhone, Android spyware
    Watching people's every move and collecting their info – not on our watch, says web ads giant

    Spyware developed by Italian firm RCS Labs was used to target cellphones in Italy and Kazakhstan — in some cases with an assist from the victims' cellular network providers, according to Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG).

    RCS Labs customers include law-enforcement agencies worldwide, according to the vendor's website. It's one of more than 30 outfits Google researchers are tracking that sell exploits or surveillance capabilities to government-backed groups. And we're told this particular spyware runs on both iOS and Android phones.

    We understand this particular campaign of espionage involving RCS's spyware was documented last week by Lookout, which dubbed the toolkit "Hermit." We're told it is potentially capable of spying on the victims' chat apps, camera and microphone, contacts book and calendars, browser, and clipboard, and beam that info back to base. It's said that Italian authorities have used this tool in tackling corruption cases, and the Kazakh government has had its hands on it, too.

    Continue reading
  • FTC urged to probe Apple, Google for enabling ‘intense system of surveillance’
    Ad tracking poses a privacy and security risk in post-Roe America, lawmakers warn

    Democrat lawmakers want the FTC to investigate Apple and Google's online ad trackers, which they say amount to unfair and deceptive business practices and pose a privacy and security risk to people using the tech giants' mobile devices.

    US Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and House Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA) requested on Friday that the watchdog launch a probe into Apple and Google, hours before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, clearing the way for individual states to ban access to abortions. 

    In the days leading up to the court's action, some of these same lawmakers had also introduced data privacy bills, including a proposal that would make it illegal for data brokers to sell sensitive location and health information of individuals' medical treatment.

    Continue reading
  • Brave Search leaves beta, offers Goggles for filtering, personalizing results
    Freedom or echo chamber?

    Brave Software, maker of a privacy-oriented browser, on Wednesday said its surging search service has exited beta testing while its Goggles search personalization system has entered beta testing.

    Brave Search, which debuted a year ago, has received 2.5 billion search queries since then, apparently, and based on current monthly totals is expected to handle twice as many over the next year. The search service is available in the Brave browser and in other browsers by visiting search.brave.com.

    "Since launching one year ago, Brave Search has prioritized independence and innovation in order to give users the privacy they deserve," wrote Josep Pujol, chief of search at Brave. "The web is changing, and our incredible growth shows that there is demand for a new player that puts users first."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022