Microsoft has spoken out in support of the Australian Government’s proposal for new legislation addressing digital platforms and Australian news businesses. Microsoft’s search engine Bing could replace Google Search functions in the country following new legislative changes.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) developed a new code of conduct – called the news media bargaining code – which entered the Australian House of Representatives in late December. The ACCC says that the code aims to “address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook”. The new legislation would require these companies to pay Australian news organisations for their content.
Google has threatened to pull its search function from Australia if the news media bargaining code becomes law, claiming in an open letter to Australians that it “would force us to provide you with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube, could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia”.
Microsoft’s search engine Bing could be ready to fill the hole left by Google, with Microsoft president Brad Smith saying that the organisation “will invest further to ensure Bing is comparable to our competitors” and that “small businesses who wish to transfer their advertising to Bing can do so simply and with no transfer costs”.
“We believe that the current legislative proposal represents a fundamental step towards a more level playing field and a fairer digital ecosystem for consumers, business and society,” said Smith, in a recent Microsoft post.
“One thing is clear: while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat. We appreciate what Australia has long meant for Microsoft’s growth as a company, and we are committed to supporting the country’s national security and economic success.”