Microsoft wants the US to hit search rival Google with Australian-style media laws, following the bargaining code battle down under

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  • Microsoft president Brad Smith will reportedly front a U.S. House committee hearing to champion Australian-style regulation which would impact search competitor Google.
  • Smith will reportedly advocate for rules which would allow media organisations to collectively bargain with internet giants over compensation for the news content displayed on those platforms.
  • Google previously threatened to withdraw Search in Australia over similar provisions, leading Smith to present Microsoft’s own Bing as a viable search engine replacement.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Microsoft will reportedly use a US Congressional committee hearing to champion Australian-style regulation targeting tech giant and major rival Google, which it claims has a stranglehold on the digital ad market.

Axios reports Microsoft president Brad Smith will appear before a House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee on Friday, where he will argue in favour of legislation which echoes Australia’s contentious news media bargaining code.

The bipartisan committee this week introduced a bill which would allow small publishers the ability to collectively bargain with internet juggernauts including Google and Facebook over compensation for the news content displayed on those sites, something which is currently blocked by US antitrust law.

If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The collective bargaining aspect mirrors legislation passed in Australia last month, which enshrined the ability of media companies to band together while seeking payment from those internet juggernauts.

The Australian legislation also includes a provision compelling Google and Facebook to enter mandatory arbitration with publishers if they fail to broker a deal — an aspect not included in the proposed US bill.

Regardless, Smith, who vehemently supported the Australian legislation, said new rules in the US would loosen what he sees as Google’s tight grip on digital advertising platforms.

Smith will reportedly say that “for all practical purposes,” news publishers “must use Google’s tools, operate on Google’s ad exchanges, contribute data to Google’s operations, and pay Google money.”

“All this impacts the ability of news organisations to benefit economically even from advertising on their own sites.”

Microsoft is hardly an impartial observer of the fresh legislation, either in Australia or the US.

Before Google signed a swathe of big-dollar deals with Australian media organisations, placating the Federal Government’s desire to enforce the harsher aspects of the code, the company said new laws could force the withdrawal of its Search product from Australia.

In response, Smith promoted Microsoft’s competing search engine, Bing, as a ready-made replacement for Google Search in the Australian market.

While “Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us,” Smith said at the time.

Last month, Facebook temporarily banned all news content from being shared in Australia rather than adhere to adhere to the code.

Since reintroducing news in Australia, the social media platform has inked its own deals with Australian news publishers.

Smith also savaged Facebook for its decision to temporarily ban news content, saying it was a “mistake”.

Today’s hearing will address just one of several related antitrust bills which committee members intend to introduce in the House.