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US Urges Australia To Reconsider Forcing Facebook & Google To Pay For News

The Trump administration has added its two cents to the ongoing battle between Australia, Facebook and Google, urging the Federal government to redraft the ACCC law.

In a letter sent from US assistant trade representatives, the News Media Bargaining Code was described as “impractical” and says it discriminates against the American tech giants.

“As set forth in these comments, the U.S. Government is concerned that an attempt, through legislation, to regulate the competitive positions of specific players in a fast-evolving digital market, to the clear detriment of two U.S. firms, may result in harmful outcomes. There may also be long-lasting negative consequences for U.S. and Australian firms, as well as Australian consumers,” the letter reads.

“We respectfully request that Australia reconsider whether legislation is needed.”

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.

Google in particular has pushed hard against the ACCC’s draft News Media Bargaining Code, saying there are three areas it would like to see revised.

“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.

As a protest, Google has been trialling pushing down search results for local commercial news outlets in Australia.

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.

Channel News has noticed search results for local stories which ordinarily appeared on the first page of the news tab in Google now no longer appear.

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