Google warned a move by Australia’s competition watchdog to enable domestic media companies to negotiate fair payment for news content on the search giant’s platform would harm search results and put its free services at risk.

In an open letter posted on its website, Google Australia MD Mel Silva stated new government regulations would hurt how Australians use Google Search and YouTube, noting the proposed law 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”.

She claimed the law is set up to give big media companies special treatment and to encourage them to make “enormous and unreasonable demands”.

Silva explained the proposed changes are “not fair and they mean Google Search results and YouTube will be worse for you”, as the law would force it to give an unfair advantage to one group of businesses – news organisations – over everyone else who has a website, YouTube channel or small business.

At the end of July, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued the News Media Bargaining Code to address what it perceives is an imbalance in power between tech giants and local media outfits. Its plan would initially enable groups of media businesses to collectively negotiate with Google and Facebook.

Creator ecosystem
In a second letter, addressed to Australian creators and artists, head of YouTube APAC Gautam Anand said the code could have a significant negative impact on the creator ecosystem in the country.

Anand said YouTube would be obligated to give large news publishers confidential information about its systems, which they could use to try to appear higher in rankings on YouTube, disadvantaging other creators.

He added that the new law will create an uneven playing field when it comes to who makes money on YouTube, claiming major news businesses can “demand large amounts of money above and beyond what they earn on the platform, leaving fewer funds to invest in you, our creators, and the programmes to help you develop your audience”.