Google leaves for worrying actions in Australia – 22/01/2021 – Nelson de Sá

The alarm went off on the 13th in the Australian Financial Review, when journalist Miranda Ward published the first evidence that Google “was experimenting with its algorithm to remove Australian media articles from its results.”

Searching for content from the Financial Review itself or the Sydney Morning Herald yielded only old links or other sources.

Ward turned to the US platform, which confirmed: “We are currently doing experiments that will reach about 1% of users in Australia, to measure the impact of information companies and Google search. , on top of each other. “

Rather, it was an experiment of private monopoly censorship – that’s how the Department of Justice and the US Congress describe Google today. In Australia, it controls 95% of searches.

The group that publishes the Financial Review and other leading newspapers across the country saw the platform’s action as “a chilling illustration of its extraordinary market power.”

“It’s disturbing,” admitted the editor of the New Zealander Herald, stressing that Google was showing its power before the project, which takes place in the Australian Parliament, to make platforms pay for the news.

The episode reverberated around the world, for countries that have been following Australia’s efforts for months, and the government itself has responded by saying that “the digital giants should focus on paying for content, not on the block “.

Not even ten days later and, this Friday (22), the search giant returned to the charge with an even greater impact, in the press release from Melanie Silva, director of Google Australia and New Zealand, as transmitted by Parliamentary Channel and reported by Business Insider et al:

“If this version of the code [de regulação das negociações entre veículos e plataformas, para a remuneração] if that were to become law, we would have no choice but to stop making Google search available in Australia. “

In a later note, translated and transmitted by Google Brazil, Silva claims that “the latest version of the code forces Google to pay to post links to news sites, which undermines a fundamental principle of how the web works and sets a precedent. unsustainable for our businesses, the Internet and the digital economy ”.

Newspapers around the world, from the Sydney Morning Herald to the New York Times to the German Handelsblatt, have called the statement a “threat.” An Australian senator saw “blackmail”. Prime Minister Scott Morrison slapped his chest: “We do not respond to threats.”

The shock in Australia ended up hiding the remuneration agreement for journalistic content that the platform had concluded in France the day before, sealing peace with Le Monde, Le Figaro and others – in terms similar to those in force in Germany and Brazil.

In all three, the basis of the agreement is a new platform tool, Google News Showcase or, as it is called in Brazil, Highlights. This is where compensation “arbitrage” takes place.

With the Australian code, which adopts a different arbitration model and notification requirements for algorithm changes, Google is losing power to the state.

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