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Google Could Soon Ban Australians From Critical Upgrades

Google engineers are secretly working on a project to cut out Australians from regular updates if the search engine giant doesn’t agree with the government’s proposed laws on regulating news content, reports allege.

According to The Financial Review, sources claim Google is testing how its systems can be isolated locally if it stopped updates and improvements automatically flowing through to Aussie users – effectively bypassing regulation by the Australian government’s code of conduct legislation.

This could mean Australian users are left out in the cold as other global markets enjoy improved services such as search, news and discover.

The Morrison government is expected to take its revised code of conduct proposal to the party room on Tuesday. Officials have not leaked any details about changes to the code and companies involve were made to sign NDAs.

Google and other big tech companies have been working hard behind-the-scenes to talk down the government’s harsh new proposals.

“We haven’t seen the final version of the code, but will continue to engage constructively through this process,” Google Australia managing director Melanie Silva told the Financial Review in a statement.

“As we’ve said, our goal is achieving a workable code, that’s fair for publishers and platforms, and allows Australians to continue to have full and fair access to Google services.”

In an open letter to Australian users, Silva warned the News Media Bargaining Code would force Google to “provide you with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube”.

“[It] could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia,” the August 2020 letter reads.

“News media businesses alone would be given information that would help them artificially inflate their ranking over everyone else, even when someone else provides a better result.

We’ve always treated all website owners fairly when it comes to information we share about ranking. The proposed changes are not fair and they mean that Google Search results and YouTube will be worse for you.”

Google is already facing heavy scrutiny in the US after the Department of Justice lodged an antitrust lawsuit against the California-based tech giant, alleging it has abused its monopoly power.

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