Pay for content, do not block it: Frydenberg alerts Google to a news experiment
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned Google that, after the company admitted to intermittently blocking certain content, Australian news websites should pay, not ban them from search results.
On Wednesday, the technology giant said it was conducting "experiments" on newspaper website searches, like The Sydney Morning Herald, impacting around 1 per cent of Australian users.
Mr. Frydenberg rebuked Google for preventing some local users from browsing news websites through its search engine, which in Australia accounts for more than 94% of search traffic.
Mr Frydenberg told reporters on Thursday, "Google, Facebook, other digital giants should focus not on blocking users in Australia accessing domestic content, they should focus on paying for it,"
Users of the Internet have confirmed that Australian news sites have vanished from Google's search feature, displaying old content and links.
"We're currently running a few experiments that will each reach about 1 per cent of Google Search users in Australia to measure the impacts of news businesses and Google Search on each other," a Google spokesman said on Wednesday.
The project, he said, will end early next month.
"In 2018, the value we provided to publishers was estimated at $218 million through referral traffic alone."
In the midst of a battle between the federal government and tech companies over attempts to compel them to pay news publishers to view their content, the admission from Google, whose parent company Alphabet is worth more than $US1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) on the stock market.
Google is lobbying against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's new industry code, which a Senate committee is evaluating until a final Parliament vote earlier this year.
Digital giants should concentrate on paying, not blocking, for original content. We also introduced legislation again that is now before a Senate committee to bring in place a world-leading universal code to see all digital giants pay a reasonable amount of money to conventional news media firms for... Initial content creation,' said Mr Frydenberg.
It has been recognised that it will have a final arbitration model in place, not only by other regulatory authorities but by other governments around the world, and it will be a very important advance for our domestic media companies.'
Users landing on Google's Australian homepage see an alert about the company's problems with the proposed code, but Google decided to see the code go forward, the spokesperson said.
"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," the spokesperson said.
The search results made it "starkly clear" that local news was important to Google's goods, said a spokesman for Nine, owner of this masthead.
Google is an efficient monopoly and by withholding access to such timely, accurate and significant data, they clearly demonstrate how they influence what Australians have access to that,"Google is an effective monopoly and by withholding access to such timely, accurate and important information they show clearly how they impact what access Australians have to that,"
"At the same time, Google are now demonstrating how easily they can make Australian news providers who fall out of their favour effectively disappear from the internet – a chilling illustration of their extraordinary market power."