Google has abandoned its online news project in Australia due to an ‘unworkable’ policy

Google has been in a dispute with Australia for quite some time over a proposed law that will force Google to pay to link to news services. Google released an open letter that stated that this law, if passed, would place free search and YouTube service at risk. They stated that major news companies could demand more than their share from revenues leaving a smaller portion for individual creators. Google’s Managing Director in Australia stated that Google already pays corporations millions of dollars and provides them with free exposure annually and this law would place them in a position to demand more and more from Google which would, subsequently, place their free services at risk as it would force the search giant to make those services paid to support the additional costs.

This new law is called the News Media Bargaining Code. Google on its official Australia blog stated that this law endangered the creator ecosystem in Australia. They listed their main concerns and reasons to oppose the passing of this bill.

They stated that they would be obligated to allow large corporations access to confidential information that the corporations could use to raise higher in rankings causing individual creators to lose viewers and decrease their earnings.

Google said that this law would create an uneven playing field for creators and it would place individual creators at a disadvantage as corporations would have access to information that creators would not and this is immoral and unfair.

Corporations would also have access to their viewers’ use of Google’s products, and this is a major privacy infringement and that at YouTube user privacy is the first priority.

In response to this, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, or the ACCC, released an open letter of their own stating that Google’s statements spread misinformation. They said that Google would not be ‘required’ to charge for their free services unless they chose to do so nor would they be ‘required’ to provide Australian news companies with additional user information unless they chose to. The ACCC seems to be missing the point that Google would be forced to charge for its free services if this new law is passed.

Google is fighting similar laws in Europe, especially in France and Spain, but it has chosen to freeze its efforts in Australia only. Whether this is to set an example to other countries, or as a warning, or simply out of frustration it is a bold move. Its repercussions have not yet been seen and it might be a while before they are but until then we can only wait and hope that whatever happens for the best and that the privacy and work rights of creators and viewers are preserved and kept safe.
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