The ACCC has fired back at Google’s open letter, accusing the tech giant of spreading ‘misinformation’ about new regulation

The ACCC has claimed Google has spread misinformation about its draft code. (Noam Galai, Getty Images)
  • The ACCC has released a statement rebuking claims made by Google Australia’s managing director on Monday.
  • Google claims that the ACCC’s proposed bargaining code will put free services at risk, force it to hand over user data and worsen Google Search and YouTube.
  • The ACCC says those claims are false, accusing the tech giant of ‘misinformation’.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

The Australian competition watchdog alleges it has been misrepresented in Google’s new defence strategy.

On Monday evening, the ACCC rebuked the tech giant’s attacks on the bargaining code it’s still drafting.

“The open letter published by Google today contains misinformation about the draft news media bargaining code which the ACCC would like to address,” the ACCC said in a new statement.

In the letter on Monday, Google Australia managing director Mel Silva mounted a spectacular attack on efforts to regulate the company, claiming the ACCC’s proposals would “hurt how Australians use Google Search and YouTube” and put “free services at risk”.

But the ACCC has hit back, asserting Google’s claims are false.

“Google will not be required to charge Australians for the use of its free services such as Google Search and YouTube, unless it chooses to do so,” the ACCC said. “The draft code will allow Australian news businesses to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists’ work that is included on Google services.”

Silva also claimed that the new rules would “lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses” — another bogus allegation, the ACCC says.

“Google will not be required to share any additional user data with Australian news businesses unless it chooses to do so,” the regulator said.

The direct censure from the ACCC suggests Google is crying wolf in its campaign against the new regulations, aimed at addressing “a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook.”

“A healthy news media sector is essential to a well-functioning democracy,” the ACCC said on Monday.

It’s the latest front on which Australia is sparring with Google and Facebook, in what has become a prolonged battle to further regulate the two.

In July last year, the ACCC made 23 recommendations on what could be done to curtail their enormous influence and power, with the federal government making the final decision in December.

Since then the ACCC has again taken the lead, drafting a bargaining code of conduct to govern negotiations between Google, Facebook and Australian media.

While the latter has welcomed a rebalance of power, the former are evidently refusing to go without a fight.