Technology ACCC watching the clock tick as Facebook lags Google in striking news media deals
Google is threatening to pull its search engine out of Australia
Google and Facebook have been in a long-running fight with Australian politicians, regulators and media companies over whether they should pay news organizations for showing their stories in search results. The battle reached a new level of intensity when a Google executive threatened to pull out of the country during testimony at the Australian Senate. The threat is the latest and most intense in a long-running battle that has pit Australian lawmakers and news organizations against U.S.-based tech giants Google and Facebook. For years, news organizations in Australia have argued they should be paid when Internet companies aggregate news stories on their websites.
Through the threat of government intervention, two tech giants have been opening their pockets to fund media businesses in Australia for displaying links to articles and the like, with Google making a handful of deals with some of "the big media players" and Facebook only with one, but coming to agreements with a bunch of smaller organisations.
Thewas legislated between the Australian government and the two tech giants, with the former calling it necessary to counter the power imbalance in the industry and the latter touting for the very concept of a code.
Facebook's news blackout: Why folks outside Australia should care
A proposed law in Australia could be the first of many around the world."Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram," Will Easton, who manages Facebook's Australia and New Zealand operations, said in an August blog post. "This is not our first choice -- it is our last.
A fortnight after the code passed through Parliament, Facebook is yet to sign on more than just one large organisation. Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Rod Sims was asked if there was anything that could be done to force this along.
"I'm happy to give it a bit more time and therefore not do anything at the moment," he told the Environment and Communications References Committee on Friday, which is also looking into media diversity in Australia.
"Obviously, there'll come a time where you might need to do something, but I don't think we're there yet.
"The way I see that is, the purpose of the media bargaining code was to improve the bargaining power of the news media businesses with Facebook and Google. I think the news media bargaining code has done that."
Google says ACCC's work on ad tech regulation could be at odds with Privacy Act
Search giant asks the watchdog to consult with the Attorney-General's Department, the OAIC, and privacy advocacy groups for the remainder of its ad tech inquiry.Google has offered the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) a number of suggestions on how best to move forward with regulation in the digital advertising space, saying a "collaborative" approach would provide the most benefit to consumers and Australian businesses.
Sims said, however, the fact that there is "more even bargaining power" does not mean Facebook will just agree to whatever the news media business wants.
"Obviously now they can stand up to Facebook, whereas like [they] just clearly absolutely could not before, you could just see it, it was take it or leave it territory," he declared. "Now it's more even.
"[Negotiations] sometimes, they're pretty hectic, they take a lot of time. So I think that's a long winded way of saying I think it's got a bit further to play out."
He considers the fact that Google signed deals early on -- such as-- displayed they were "more advanced" than Facebook, which he said was coming from a bit of a backmarker.
"The only reason the negotiations are going -- I was observing prior to the code coming along the interaction between the platforms and the news media businesses, and that was take it or leave it stuff, the fact that you've got the deals Google signed, and Facebook signed, I think is completely due to the code," Sims continued. "And hopefully, there'll be more, and we'll get the deals done. And if we get the deals done, then designation's irrelevant."
Google found to have 'partially' misled Australian users in location tracking case
The Australian Federal Court has ruled that Google "partially" misled users in the country when it comes to how it collects and uses location data. Justice Thomas Thawley has handed down his verdict for the case filed in 2019 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which accused the tech giant of tracking Android users' locations without giving them an informed choice. The ACCC argued that between January 2017 and December 2018, the company gave users the impression that keeping their "Location History" setting off would be enough to prevent Google from collecting their data.
Google noted during consultation on the Bill that the idea ofto websites goes against the very concept of the internet; this was something validated by the . Facebook similarly said it gains no value from news and from its Australian platform, as it had , before restoring it as the Bill passed.
Sims was also asked about how to tackle misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms, specifically if there was a way to highlight to users that they're only getting one side or a very narrow cast of an issue without verging into censorship or control of information.
"I think it is very complex," he said.
"I guess just a couple of quick points. One is we did recommend that ACMA bring in place a disinformation misinformation code where they could have the power to take down or -- agree on processes where the platforms would take down deliberate misinformation disinformation."
What was originally a recommendation from the ACCC transpired into a, which aims to stem disinformation on digital platforms that operate in Australia.
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Whether you have an iPhone or Android, Google Nest speaker, or a Chromecast built-in audio device, here's how to use them with Google Assistant to stream music throughout your home.Devices compatible with Chromecast built-in, such as the Google Nest Audio, the Onkyo TX-NR696 receiver and the JBL Playlist speaker, can work singly or in concert throughout your home. You can create groups of multiple devices and send music, news or whatever to any or all of them at the same time, using the Google Home app on your phone or with your voice via the Google Assistant.
The code was prepared by the Digital Industry Group Inc (DiGi), a non-profit industry association advocating for the digital industry in Australia.
All signatories -- Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Redbubble, TikTok, and Twitter -- have committed to the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation. They have also committed to releasing an annual transparency report about their efforts under the code.
Sims said a big part of the misinformation problem relates to privacy.
"Because part of this is all the data that people have on you and how they can then target you," he said. "Beyond that, I understand the trade-off, I just think it's an issue to be watched and kept an eye on."
ACCC warns restricting access to technology is stifling right to repair agricultural machinery .
The Australian competition watchdog wants agricultural machinery manufacturers to share information about software, tools, and parts with independent repairers.Attractive farmer navigating drone above farmland with silos and tractor in background. High technology innovations for increasing productivity in agriculture (Attractive farmer navigating drone above farmland with silos and tractor in background.