Australia criticizes Google for “experimenting” with blocking news

Sydney: Australia urged Google on Thursday to “focus on paying for original content, not blocking it” after the internet giant said it was running tests that limit access to local news content, deepening the rift between the tech giant and the government.

After the Alphabet Inc-owned search engine provider said it was running experiments to determine the value of its service for Australian news outlets, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg accused her of “blocking” users when she should pay for content.

“The digital giants should focus on paying for original content, not blocking it,” Friedenberg told reporters, referring to Google and the social media giant Facebook.

He added that companies should “pay traditional news media companies a reasonable amount of money to those news media companies that produce original content.”

The dispute shows strong resistance by so-called big tech companies to laws that will force them to negotiate with Australian news outlets about paying for content that appears on their platforms.

If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the government-appointed arbitrator will decide on their behalf.

In a long-running dispute, Google and Facebook have called the rules unfair and suggested they will force them to restrict their offerings in the country.

After media reports said Australian news sites did not appear in searches, Google confirmed that it was conducting unspecified tests regarding news media.

“We are currently running some experiments each of which will reach about 1% of Google Search users in Australia to measure the impact of news companies and Google Search on each other,” a spokesperson said in an email, adding that the trials will be completed by early February.

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