News Google slams ACCC after ‘misinformation’ accusation, says YouTube will be hurt
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Google slams ACCC after ‘misinformation’ accusation, says YouTube will be hurt

The PR battle between the ACCC and Google could continue. Photo: Getty
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Google has angrily fired back at federal authorities after the search giant was accused of sending “misinformation” to Australian users, the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter fight about paying for journalism.

Google has claimed a proposed new code is unworkable, and promised to wage a concerted campaign against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s plans.

Facebook and Google would be forced to compensate media outlets, under draft guidelines recently released by the ACCC.

The digital giants have been criticised for hoovering up vast amounts of advertising dollars formerly relied on by news businesses, with the ACCC and federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg saying it was important to “create a level playing field”.

The overseas tech companies disagreed with the ruling. On Monday, Google rolled out the first parts of its public campaign, hoping to turn Australians against the ACCC plan.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has unveiled a new code madating Facebook pay news outlets.
Large digital platforms will have to pay news outlets for content, under an ACCC code. Photo: AAP

In an open letter published online, Google claimed the news media bargaining code would force it to provide users with a “dramatically worse” search and YouTube products.

“[The code] could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia,” Google Australia managing director Mel Silva said.

The ACCC hit back, calling the claims “misinformation”. It said Google would not be forced to charge for its services or share any additional data.

“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,” the ACCC said Monday.

On Tuesday, Google responded again, claiming its statement had been taken out of context.

“We did not say that the proposed law would require us to charge Australians for Search and YouTube – we do not intend to charge users for our free services,” a Google spokesperson told The New Daily.

Facebook and Google will be the first digital platforms subjected to the code. Photo: Getty

“What we did say is that Search and YouTube, both of which are free services, are at risk in Australia. That’s because the code as it is drafted is unworkable.”

Google said it was unhappy with parts of the code that would compel it “to give all news media businesses advance notice of algorithm changes and explain how they can minimise the effects”.

“Even assuming Google could comply with this provision, it would seriously damage our products and user experience. It would impact our ability to continue to show users the most relevant useful results on Google Search and YouTube,” Google said.

The company also said provisions in the code about sharing user data with media companies go “beyond the current level of data sharing between Google and news publishers”.

 

Google and its other companies, including YouTube, have promised to keep running a campaign against the proposed code. In another open letter, Gautam Anand, head of YouTube’s Australia and Pacific operations, told users “in the coming days, you’ll hear more from us about how you can get involved”.

Google has also been showing Australians a pop-up box when they search, claiming “the way Aussies use Google is at risk” and “your search experience will be hurt by new regulation”.

In a tweet on one of its Twitter pages, YouTube told its global followers to send feedback to the ACCC to “support your favourite creators” on the video platform.

Mr Anand’s open letter said the ACCC code “could have a significant, negative impact on the creator ecosystem in Australia”, claiming it could affect the number of video views and income each creator can receive from YouTube clips.

 

“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 wrote

“We are doing everything we can to push for changes and make sure YouTube in Australia remains a place where anyone can connect to an audience or build a business, not just a few large media companies.”

The New Daily has also contacted Facebook for its response to the ACCC code.