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Google accused of sending ‘misinformation’ to Aussies

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Australia’s consumer watchdog has hit back at what it called Google’s “misinformation” contained in the tech giant’s campaign against sharing ad revenue with media companies.

Australia's consumer watchdog has hit back at what it called Google's "misinformation" contained in the tech giant's campaign against sharing ad revenue with media companies.

Google is campaigning against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which has been instructed by the Federal Government to develop a code that would require the global tech company to share part of its multi-million dollar advertising revenue with local media organisations.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the new code earlier this year after a pandemic-driven plunge in advertising revenue caused more than a hundred regional and rural newspapers to close or stop printing.

It also lead to the shedding of hundreds of journalist jobs.

Media companies argued that Google makes money from news and commentary that newspapers and online news sites provide.

From yesterday, Australian internet users who search on Google have been presented with a small pop-up ad that tells them "The way Aussies use Google is at risk".

Resembling a warning sign, it tells them "your search experience will be hurt by new regulation".

Users who click through are taken to an open letter, written by Google Australia's managing director, Mel Silva.

"We need to let you know about new government regulation that will hurt how Australians use Google Search and YouTube," the letter states.

"A proposed law, the News Media Bargaining Code, would force us to provide you with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube, could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia."

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But the ACCC said the tech giant's letter "contains misinformation" about how the code - which is still a draft - would operate.

It said any charges to currently free Google services would be up to the company.

"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," ACCC chair Rod Sims said in a statement.

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

The ACCC said the draft code was about addressing a "significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook".

The proposed measures would allow Australian media outlets to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists' work that is included on Google services, the ACCC said.

Source: 9News

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