We have been monitoring the Australian Federal Government’s attempt to regulate the commercial relationship between Google and large media companies for a while now. To say we’re against the move and see it as an outright attack on the open web in Australia and, through extension, Ausdroid itself would be putting it mildly: this is a bad law written by people clearly motivated by special interest lobbying.

Yesterday Google’s Managing Director of Google Australia Mel Silva wrote an open letter to the Australia People warning both citizens and Aussie YouTube creators alike that the very nature of news and media on the web served in Australia is under attack. Yes, some of the framings of the arguments are of course written to put Google in a positive light. Yes, this is a nuanced and complex issue.

Here’s the thing, given a choice of putting our trust and faith in either Google or the large media conglomerates that dominate the major news landscape in Australia we choose Google 100% of the time. As such we’re willing to favour Google’s dystopian view of the Australia regulations.

In short, Google has a couple of messages for all Australians should the new News Media Bargaining Code be enforced. Firstly, Google will be required to share with “News Media businesses” (ie. large media corporations) details of how the Google search algorithm works — this will allow organisations with the resources to undermine the validity of the organic search and product content, regardless of worth, originality or validity that will naturally float to the top of the search rankings.

This will effectively kill the usefulness of the search algorithm for finding relevant and legitimate news in Australia. It will also further empower the entrenched old media organisations as the dominant voice in all Australian news and possible drive smaller independent outlets, like Ausdroid, to the brink or out of business.

Secondly, Google claims they will be required to tell news media businesses “how they can gain access” to data about Australia’s use of its products. I would never consent to any large media conglomerate having ANY data about how I use the web, what I search for, or what I am doing. Just because I click a link in Google news and end up at a website of a media dinosaur does not mean I am consenting to them having any data about me.

The ACCC has directly called out this comment as non-factual stating that “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.” The ACCC immediately and directly responding is a string statement that the regulator feels Google is not acting in good faith in this claim.

Lastly, Google has made it clear that for their operations there is not a huge economic value in the Australian news business to them. They have, however, paid significant amounts to news outlets via AdSense and media initiative funding, not to mention driving a vast amount of free organic search traffic to Australian media outlets free of charge.

The open letter from Google states that the regulation “would put the free services you use at risk in Australia”. The ACCC in their retort has interpreted this statement as Google claiming they would charge users to use Google’s previously free service. We think that’s not what Google is saying, this feels more like a threat to pull News from Google Australia.

Previously they have hinted that they may have to pull out of the Australian News market if this regulation came into effect, and don’t think they won’t — they have done it in other markets when their digitally inept Governments tried the same sort of big business protectionism. Pulling all news from Google search and Google News in Australia would effectively kill almost the entire small and independent news organisation, yes… like Ausdroid.

Here’s the real killer, if Google pulled news in Australia, the only thing left standing would be the draconian and out of touch old-world news media that is driving the entire political agenda. So either way, they win if this legalisation comes in, either the can game the system, get unfair access to data and information, or they starve the Australian media landscape of digital income and fill the void.

We are not advocating that the answer is to do nothing, but we are strongly saying that introducing a regulation that overly favours the entrenched media conglomerates over smaller and independent voices is certainly not the solution. With more voices we get more diversity, do you want players like Murdoch controlling all the voices in your news?

Google Australia has promised to provide more details soon, but it’s looking more and more like Australia is going to be embattled in a fight for the very existence of free and open media. It’s not hard to foresee a moment in the not too distant future where all Australians are going to have to fight against this or face the consequences of a monopolistic media landscape in the not too distant future.

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Marty
1 month ago

Mainstream Media is Brainwashing our Society with political correctness Left wing Nonsense, So until Google and Facebook Step aside from following this Narrative and Give us some Real Factual News for Mainstream Australians which we dearly need on the Global Scale, You surely won’t be Missed sorry to say. ABC, SBS, etc only increase blood pressure.

Snoozin
Snoozin
1 month ago

Bugger Google, they are not paying their fair share of taxes here and around the world. Let alone paying for content.
I’ve dumped Google Chrome now, and using a different search engine.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Snoozin
28 days ago

I agree wholeheartedly. This time Google seems to be forgetting ‘don’t be evil’. I feel their campaign of messaging about it, trying to engage its users, is over the top, and offers no opportunity for debate or discussion. Shame.

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
Reply to  Richard
27 days ago

Google removed ‘Don’t Be Evil’ from their corporate policies, mantras, and slogans, several years ago.

Charles Williams
Charles Williams
1 month ago

This is such a disappointing interpretation from Ausdroid. Framing this is ‘big entrenched media conglomerates to poor little Google’ is not just naive, it’s dangerous. Facebook is by far the worst offender, but these multi billion dollar companies profit from the theft of journalism. And not Rupert Murdoch’s ‘journalism’, which is thriving behind paywalls, but independent journalism which has been decimated as anyone vaguely familiar with this situation knows. Putting your ‘faith’ in Google and Facebook over journalism is absurd.

Andrew Reilly
Andrew Reilly
Reply to  Charles Williams
1 month ago

How can it be “theft of journalism” when any content shown on the search and social sites is put there by the publishers in the first place, for their own benefit (click-through)? They want the free advertising and eyballs of the socials, and instead of paying for that, they want to be paid for it! The argument makes no sense. If Rupert was doing so well with his outdated business model and paywall, do you think that he would be closing papers and sacking hundreds of staff? The world has changed. You can’t prop-up anachronistic business models that no longer… Read more »

Rod
Rod
1 month ago

Newsrooms globally have been wiped out by the internet- not Google or Apple news specifically, nor Facebook, Twitter, etc. If anything those platforms provide a click through to these established players. Meanwhile everyone else with a browser can just disable JavaScript, go incognito, clear cookies and cache, or download a browser add-in, when presented with paywalls or article limits. As much as I loathe fakebook, and have growing concern about the rest of big tech, I think this is overreach by the ACCC.

Elvin
Elvin
1 month ago

It would certainly be a loss if what they claim is true, but it is also a clearly bias statement from Google.

I do hope that independent outlets, like Ausdroid, can continue to thive,

Scott Plowman
Ausdroid Editor
Reply to  Elvin
1 month ago

seems others can make spelling mistakes too mate 😀 We all have FT jobs that require us to try and push content out when on small breaks. Sometimes things are missed. we are human. This one was on me but you know what? living in Melbourne and working in healthcare during COVID-19 it is going to happen again.

As for Ausdroid we will do whatever we can to make it work but without Google News we will struggle, big time.

Last edited 1 month ago by Scott Plowman
Elvin
Elvin
Reply to  Scott Plowman
1 month ago

Love the subtle edit of my message. Not really needed though since you acknowledged the issue in your message 😉

Indeed spelling mistakes can be made by all, but being a journalist I would expect a higher calibre, or even putting it through a spell check. It has been an issue here from long before COVID, so whilst I respect that you might work in healthcare, that is not really an excuse.

I’m glad for the response though, as it finally means it is acknowledged and hopefully something will be done to improve this in the future.

jmave25
jmave25
1 month ago

“Free and open media”? You trust Google with Facebook & Youtube! Then there is Twitter! Talk about fake news sites which spread misinformation and generate hysteria and conspiracy theories! All of them also take news from correspondents and do not pay them. How many news correspondents does Google employ around the world? What about Twitter? If Google had its way, ALL search would be through its sites and ONLY companies that paid it high fees would be listed. And, it is always looking to steal news stories without paying the correspondents directly, stating that it does that through ad revenue.For… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by jmave25
Scott Plowman
Ausdroid Editor
Reply to  jmave25
1 month ago

problem is though mate is that this is purely only for the big news corporations — not the average blokes and gals like us.

jmave25
jmave25
Reply to  Scott Plowman
1 month ago

Then again, BBC seems to have a more-balanced report on it than you do. Of course, they are not reliant on advertising, as Ausdroid is. See https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53806489 for a better take. Read the paragraph entitled, “What are the proposals?” Also, you wrote how it is an attack on the “open” web. That sounds like the same argument people make who want “freedom of speech” to say what they like and to watch what they like. We know what that “openness” has done and why there is regulation. However, I can understand where your company is coming from, and that you… Read more »

Joshua Hill
Joshua Hill
Reply to  jmave25
1 month ago

There was no new info in that BBC article you linked. Not a shred of analysis provided at all. Thanks for wasting my time with that link mate. It was a bare bones statement of the facts and nothing more. To use it as an example of more balanced reporting when it’s attempted no analysis at all is laughable.

Andrew Reilly
Andrew Reilly
Reply to  jmave25
1 month ago

The only news that shows up on Google search/news, Bing(?), YouTube, Facebook and Twitter is the content that the companies and authors who created put there themselves. They put it there so that more people would see it and its links, and follow those to their web sites. If they don’t want those click-throughs, they don’t have to submit their updates and stories to the socials and search engines. (If you are silly enough to follow a link to a story on, say, The Australian, you get a sign-up page because the story itself is behind their paywall.) In return… Read more »

Will
Will
Reply to  jmave25
1 month ago

I’m assuming you work for News Corp/Nine Ent? Look at other countries that have done this. It only benefits big media.
Why would Google charge for News? They want the ad revenue from smaller outlets that can’t afford to have no ads on their sites like the major news sites can (especially if there’s no competition left), so it’s in Google’s interest to act as the neutral party.

Nowat
Nowat
Reply to  Will
1 month ago

Wrong assumption! You should seek more information before making baseless assumptions. The news sources I access are ABC, BBC and DW and sometimes Al Jazeera. I access them directly and do not need to see advertisements. I am interested in accurate news.

chris
chris
1 month ago

Firstly a Google product will always be killed to be replaced with a “better” product with half the features that really isn’t even out of alpha stage yet and you have to pay for this lesser product.
There are plenty of news sources without having to use Google and frankly these days if there is an alternative product from someone else that does the same job I am moving to it. Play Music was my last straw, the joke that is Youtube music shows the truth about Google. Lie, do evil and money comes first.

Darren White
Darren White
1 month ago

I am going to miss Google News when they shut it down. How long will it take till the old news companies to realise the losses.

Paul W
Paul W
Reply to  Darren White
1 month ago

About 6 months I suspect. Then they’ll be asking Google back.

Oldmike
Oldmike
1 month ago

I’m definitely with Google on this , ACCC should pull their head in .
This is not about Google , this is about control by big media players , and even politics comes into it .