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News 29 Jan 2021 - 1 min read

Propaganda wars: Google ratchets up pressure on Australian government with search takeover

By Brendan Coyne - Editor

Google has intensified its offensive against the government's bargaining code, taking over its own site to tell Australians why the code is wrong and its alternatives are right.

What you need to know:

  • Google piles pressure on government by placing prominent message at the top of all Australian searches.
  • Move described as biggest lobbying move seen globally from search giant.

Google has ratcheted up pressure on the Australian government over its proposals that would compel the search giant to pay for news.

The news bargaining code is the first in a string of regulatory interventions planned to rein-in Google and Facebook's market power as the government attempts to regulate algorithms.

The platforms are deeply unhappy with the proposals, which they claim would undermine their business models and expose them to unknown risk. Google has threatened to pull search from Australia entirely if the code goes ahead as currently written. Facebook has also said it will cull Australian news from its platform.

Their public threats mean it is now harder for the government to back down. Google is playing hardball using its platform to tell 95% of Australians that use its search engine that the government is putting their services at risk with an "unworkable" code, and that its own proposals to pay for news represent "a path forward".

Joshua Lowcock, Chief Digital Officer and Global Brand Safety Officer at IPG Mediabrands network UM, described the move as "the most proactive public lobbying I have ever seen from Google". Earlier this week Lowcock told Mi3 that he would be "genuinely surprised" if the search giant pulled its Australian service, given the knock-on effects on its wider business.

Lowcock added that the government "is not going to capitulate" on the issue as lawmakers around the world accelerate efforts to create effective regulation of the digital economy.

Google, however, appears to be anything but cowed.


Mi3 Special Report: Australia's looming $1bn retailer media market

  • Australia's retailers are gearing up to become major media channels.
  • US retailers are already displacing 'legacy' publishers.
  • All retailers are eyeing media, not just supermarkets and FMCG.
  • Mi3 supported by Resolution Digital have produced a 28-page report with cross-industry views on what you need to know.

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