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Google Lobbies Aussies Against ACCC News Payment Plan

Google has deployed a suite of pop-ups to alert Australians they are “at risk”, as the tech giant seeks to lobby local users against proposed government legislation which would force it to pay selected media outlets for news.

Upon visiting the local Google homepage, users are presented with a pop-up alerting them “the way Aussies use Google is at risk” and “their search experience will be hurt by new regulation.”

Google Australia Managing Director, Mel Silva, has published an ‘Open letter to Australians‘ asserting that the 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,” reads the letter introduction.

Silva affirms the proposed law seeks to give “big media companies special treatment”, adding it already pays them millions of dollars and sends billions of free clicks per year. She states Google has offered to pay more for licensed content.

The company is set to release more information in coming days, and pledges to “do everything we possibly can” to get the proposal changed.

The ACCC has since pushed back, asserting the letter “contains misinformation.”

“The draft code will allow Australian news businesses to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists’ work that is included on Google services,” reads the ACCC’s response.

“This will address a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook.”

The proposed News Media Bargaining Code law is in draft, with the ACCC continuing to consult with interested parties including Google. Consultation closes on August 28.

The news comes as Google has scaled back services in some countries due to new legislation – shutting down Google News in Spain after being asked to pay for news displayed.

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