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Google Hides Results From Oz News Outlets In Protest Of News Media Bargaining Code

Google is trialling pushing down search results for commercial news outlets in Australia as part of its ongoing campaign against the News Media Bargaining Code.

The search engine giant is testing the algorithm experiment on some users, where content searches for mastheads from Nine and News Corp are either scrubbed altogether or only old stories are offered instead.

Only commercial news companies are affected by the test, with content from government-owned ABC not impacted.

Google told Mumbrella the experiments would end next month and said the News Media Bargaining Code needs to be “fair for everyone”.

“We’re currently running a few experiments that will each reach about 1% of Google Search users in Australia to measure the impacts of news businesses and Google Search on each other. In 2018, the value we provided to publishers through referral traffic alone was estimated at $218 million dollars,” Google said in a statement.

“As we said last week, we remain committed to getting to a workable code and look forward to working with the Senate Committee, policymakers, and publishers to achieve an outcome that’s fair for everyone, in the interests of all Australians.”

Google has put forward submissions to the ACCC which it says “proves” the draft code is “unworkable”.

“In short, the Draft Code is unworkable for Google. In its current form, the Draft Code presents substantial and unmanageable legal and commercial risks. It is a disproportionate and unfair interference with Google’s investment and business in Australia,” Google said in its submission.

On 20 April 2020, the Australian Government asked the ACCC to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook.

According to Google, in its current form, the code will:

-Force Google to pay to show links in an unprecedented intervention that would fundamentally break how search engines work. No website and no search engine pays to connect people to other websites, yet the Code would force Google to include and pay for links to news websites in the search results you see. This sets the groundwork to unravel the key principles of the open internet people use every day—something neither a search engine nor anyone who enjoys the benefits of the free and open web should accept.

-Requires Google to give news publishers special treatment—14 days’ notice of certain changes to algorithms and ‘internal practices’. Even if we could comply, that would delay important updates, drive up operating costs, and mandate special treatment to news publishers in a way that would disadvantage everyone else.

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