Bing The Alternative As Life Without Google Looms
Microsoft has thrown its weight behind the Australian government’s proposed News Media Bargaining Code, in the hopes its Bing search engine will fill the void if Google pulls out of the country.
The US tech giant, in a statement by Microsoft president Brad Smith, pledged to invest further in Bing to provide a service “comparable to [its] competitors”, and to ensure small businesses looking to transfer advertising to Bing can do so simply and without transfer costs.
According to Smith, the code – which will force tech giants like Google and Facebook to pay Australian news organisations for the value their content brings to platforms – is a “fundamental step towards a more level playing field”, and is a reasonable attempt at addressing the bargaining power imbalance between platforms and Australian news providers.
“It also recognises the important role search plays, not only to consumers but to the thousands of Australian small businesses that rely on search and advertising technology to fund and support their organisations.
“While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us,” he said.
Smith also said that, unlike “other tech companies”, Microsoft would never threaten to leave Australia.
“We appreciate what Australia has long meant for Microsoft’s growth as a company, and we are committed to supporting the country’s national security and economic success,” he said.
Google and Facebook have opposed the code, with Facebook saying it would have to remove news articles from its main app and Google saying it would have “no choice” but to shut down Search in Australia if it went ahead.
Google has proposed a “workable” alternative to the code as it stands, which would involve paying businesses through its News Showcase service rather than for links on its search pages.
“We are not against being regulated by a Code and we are willing to pay to support journalism—we are doing that around the world through News Showcase. But several aspects of the current version of this law are just unworkable for the services you use and our business in Australia.
“The Code, as it’s written, would break the way Google Search works and the fundamental principle of the internet, by forcing us to pay to provide links to news businesses’ sites,” the company said.