In response to the antitrust law proposed by Australia, Google released an open letter to Australian users on Monday, August 17, 2020. According to The Guardian, the link containing the said open letter was targeted towards Australians via pop-up ads.
The tech giant’s open letter admonishes the consumer watchdog of the country, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), saying that it is against the proposed data media law that would force Google to provide a part of its advertising revenue towards media companies.
The rising tensions between the tech giant and the regulatory commission come as the Australian regulator announced by the end of July that tech companies, including the likes of Facebook and Google, will be required to provide payment or compensation towards media companies for news content, reports Reuters.
The proposed legislation is called the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. Under this, tech firms are required to provide compensation towards data centers and media outlets for news, states CNBC.
Furthermore, the law maintains that media companies should also be informed regarding changes to algorithms that may alter news rankings and their respective platforms.
In an article, Reuters states that the advertising earnings of media companies in Australia alone greatly went down with the advent of the Internet. For A$100 spent on online advertisements in the country, Reuters says that one-third of this goes to tech giants.
In the open letter, managing director and president of Google Australia and New Zealand, Melanie Silva said the new legislation could “hurt how Australians use Google Search and YouTube.”
Furthermore, Silva claimed that the proposed antitrust measure “could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia.”
Silva reportedly argued that Google and other tech giants in the field would have to disclose industry practices regarding how they obtain user data as well as how consumers use such Google-related products, notes CNN.
CNBC states that in attempts to correct the misinformation that the tech giants seem to have maintained in its open letter to the public, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Rod Sims made a statement saying, “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.”
Sims also maintained that the technology firm is not required to disclose user information with news outlets and businesses.
Instead, the proposed legislation fights for a number of media outlets to negotiate fair compensation with tech companies that reveals CNBC. Sims states the new data law aims to address the current and “significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook.”