Australia’s competition watchdog on Monday accused Google of sharing “misinformation” about a proposed law that would require the search giant to pay media companies for news content. The response comes after Google published an open letter saying new regulation will “hurt how Australians use Google Search and YouTube.”
“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,” wrote Google Managing Director Mel Silva in the open letter on Monday. The search giant also has a message on its Australian homepage that says “the way Aussies use Google is at risk” and links to the open letter.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission pushed back though, saying Google won’t be required to charge for use of its free services or share any additional user data with news businesses.
“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,” wrote the ACCC in its response. “The draft code will allow Australian news businesses to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists’ work that is included on Google services.”
Australia introduced a draft of the News Media Bargaining Code last month. The regulation would require digital platforms, initially Google and Facebook, to negotiate with media outlets and pay for news content that appears on their services. The draft law also says Google would need to give media outlets notice of changes to its algorithms that could impact things like referral traffic or search ranking.
The ACCC said consultation on the draft law will take place until Aug. 28, with a the code being finalized “shortly after.”
Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional comment.