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Google-Australia tussle over new media code deepens

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Sydney/New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) The News Media Bargaining Code has started a bitter war between Google/Facebook and the Australian government, with Google threatening to pull its Search engine from the country.

Rod Sims, chair of the watchdog Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said on Friday that Google and Facebook just don’t want the code to be implemented.

“Google and Facebook like to do things on their terms. I think the code does what it’s intended to do. It is workable. It allows for a process of negotiation we’ve seen these sorts of things work in the past where you’ve got negotiate-arbitrate regimes, so I think this is just something Google and Facebook don’t want,” he was quoted as saying in media reports.

Sims has said the majority of issues Facebook and Google have raised with the News Media Bargaining Code had been addressed in the legislation that passed the lower house in December, reports ZDNet.

“They don’t like the idea of arbitration, they talk of commercial deals, where they’re in full control of the deal. In my view, that’s not a commercial deal,” Sims emphasised.

Facebook and Google have been engaged in a battle with the ACCC since August last year over the new media code.

Google on Friday threatened to pull its Search engine from Australia if a proposed media bargaining law, that directs Google to pay news publishers, goes into effect.

Mel Silva, Managing Director of Google Australia and New Zealand, appeared before a public hearing of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee that is reviewing the proposed new law.

She said that in its current form, the Code remains unworkable and if it became law would hurt not just Google, but small publishers, small businesses, and the millions of Australians that use our services every day.

“Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Silva told the panel.

Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which drafted the law, suggested last year that this shouldn’t affect Google’s search business.

“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 had said.

The proposed News Media Bargaining Code law is currently in draft and targets Facebook and Google.

Facebook has also threatened to block its news from being shared in Australia if the new media code is implemented.

–IANS

na/sdr/

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