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Google Seeks Three Changes To ACCC Media Code

Google is pushing for changes to the ACCC’s draft News Media Bargaining Code, saying there are three areas it would like to see revised.

In a blog post, Mel Silva, managing director of Google Australia, said the company does not oppose a code of conduct to govern the relationship between Google and news media outlets, and is working with government and the regulator to address what she says are problems with the draft.

“We’re proposing changes to the draft law to enable us to get to a workable code, so we can all move on to building a strong digital economy for Australia’s future.

“We’ll keep doing everything we can to make sure the final version of the law is better and fairer – that it works for you, and for Australia,” she said.

The first area of concern for Google, said Silva, is the requirement for Google to give advance notice to news publishers of significant changes to Search and other products. She argued that this will disadvantage bloggers, YouTubers, and small business websites that appear in Search results.

“If you use Search to find information, you’ll be worse off because this rule will force us to slow down upgrades that improve Search for everyone.

“This requirement of the draft law could be amended to require only reasonable notice about significant actionable changes,” she added.

Secondly, Silva expressed Google’s concern that a requirement to tell news businesses how they can gain access to data about how consumers use Google offers no guarantees about how that data will be used.

“This could be amended to make it clear that Google is not required to share any additional data, over and above what publishers are already supplied – protecting information about how Australians interact with our sites,” she said.

Lastly, Google believes that the draft code will hamper its ability to negotiate fairly with content providers.

“The current draft law imposes a one-sided approach to negotiations, allowing news businesses to make claims about the value they say they offer Google, while ignoring the more than $200 million in value that Google provides to publishers each year by sending people to their websites.

This could be amended to take account of the value both sides bring to the table, as the ACCC itself suggested in May, and prevent news businesses getting even more special treatment at the expense of other Australians,” said Silva.

Submissions from interested parties to the ACCC closed at the end of last month, and the code is due to be finalised within coming weeks.

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