Should Google and Facebook pay for news in Australia?
When you googled something you want to look up for information or to watch a clip on YouTube, you might notice a yellow popup on the YouTube clip or a banner with “Open Letter to Australia” with a big yellow exclamation mark recently. The purpose of measures is to warn users that is a possibility for them to provide you with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube so you must wonder what is going on.
Mainstream and traditional print news media are dying slowly due to decreasing revenues from advertisements during the rise of digital technology which has increased by leaps and bounds within twenty years, including the birth of social media. Many users shifted to social media or online platforms for their daily dose of news rather than go and buy newspapers.
The Federal Government requested the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC), a government regulator to ensure competition and fair trade in markets to benefit consumers, businesses, and the community, to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address the bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook.
This proposed law would require online platforms such as Google and Facebook to negotiate with news outlets and pay for news content featured on their platform as compensation. Australian regulators say the tech giants benefit from publishing news generated by others. Google and Facebook are so dominant in search and social that these publishers can’t make them pay for it. With this law, it would provide news media opportunity to negotiate with tech giants in order to survive and keep their employees in the workforce.
This draft code for public consultation was released on 31 July 2020, and was received with strong reactions by tech giants. Google launched the yellow warning messages aimed at Australian users to gather public support for a campaign to pressure the federal government to dump this draft law. It also warns users of potential privacy issues that users’ data might need to be shared with news media companies.
In response, Facebook plans to prevent people and news media in Australia from sharing news on Facebook and Instagram platforms. Google warns users that their search experience will worsen that all published contents by news media will be pulled out from Google Search and YouTube as it occurred to Spanish users exactly. Spain passed a law in 2014 requiring the publishers to charge Google to display the headlines or snippets of their stories that appeared on Google News. In response, Google removed the Google News service from Spain and took Spanish publishers off its news service globally. Readership of news stories dropped, particularly at smaller, less-well-known outlets, according to one study.
ACCC hit back with an accusation at Google’s open letter claiming that Google’s letter contained misinformation that Google is not required to share any additional user information with the news media or to charge Australians for the use of free services under the proposed law.
Government regulators and media executives around the world are watching this case closely if Australia can succeed where others failed. If so, it will set a global precedent for media news that countries would use the Australian case as an example to proceed with similar demands. The potential impact on tech giants would be massive, specifically for their financial model.
We will follow this case closely too and will keep you posted with updates.
Written by The Original PC Doctor on 11/9/2020.