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Google criticizes Microsoft for its stance on media payments

SAN FRANCISCO: Google on Friday targeted Microsoft, accusing its tech rival of “distraction” for standing by governments seeking to force tech platforms to pay media organizations for news content.

In a blog, Google argued that Microsoft was trying to divert attention from a potentially devastating attack on Exchange email servers by hackers exploiting software vulnerabilities.

The comments came amid an intense battle of rhetoric over efforts in Australia and elsewhere to request digital services to negotiate payments for news content.

Google and Facebook resisted the mandatory payments, while Microsoft took a more cooperative stance.

Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith, in a speech to a congressional subcommittee hearing, blamed Google’s business model for “gobbling up” the advertising revenue that news groups depend on.

Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, responded in the blog post, saying of Microsoft: “They are now making self-serving claims, and are even willing to break the way the open web works in an attempt to undermine a competitor.”

“This important debate must revolve around the substance of the issue, and not be derailed by the bare opportunism of companies,” Walker added.

In his message, Smith praised the role news organizations play in defending democracy and asserted that “the Internet has destroyed an already faltering domestic news business by devouring advertising revenue and luring away subscribers who get paid.”

Microsoft has put pressure on other countries to follow Australia’s lead in calling for money to be paid to news outlets for stories published online, a move that Facebook and Google opposed.

“The news today is part of the technology ecosystem, and we all who share this ecosystem have the opportunity and responsibility to help journalism thrive,” Smith said.

Supporters of Google and Facebook claim that the mandatory payments for newsletters will fundamentally change the way the internet works and ultimately be detrimental to free online services.

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