Google has enlisted the help of a comedian in its ongoing campaign against the Australian government’s plan to make digital platforms pay for news.
Greta Lee Jackson stars in Google’s latest campaign salvo, which comes as the Australian competition regulator wraps up the consultation period with digital platforms and news publishers before the proposed mandatory news code becomes law. The search giant claims the proposal is “extreme” and unfair.
The final stage of the campaign is focused on what Google calls the “highly unusual, largely untested, one-sided arbitration system” that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has proposed in the draft code.
“The system being proposed is called ‘binding final-offer arbitration’, referred to in the United States as ‘baseball arbitration’,” the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, Mel Silva, said in a blog post. “It isn’t used in any of the eight other mandatory codes in Australia. In fact, without the two parties’ consent, it’s never been used in Australian law before.”
Silva instead proposed a “standard dispute resolution scheme” but did not elaborate on what that would look like.
The ACCC would not comment on the consultation process but the regulator is not bound to adopt Google’s model.
In a video, Jackson says asking Google and Facebook to pay for news is like asking a bus driver to pay the restaurant bills of passengers who ride the bus to the eateries.
“Proposed laws can be confusing so I’ll use an analogy to break it down,” Jackson says as she rides a bus to local restaurants.
“Under a new law being drafted, the bus driver would have to pay the restaurants for delivering the customers to their doorstep. Sounds weird, huh? Even when she agrees to pay and starts to negotiate how much, nothing she brings to the table is counted towards negotiations.
“What’s more absurd is that she’ll also be asked to cover some of the restaurant’s costs as well, like half the electricity bill. I may be a comedian but this is no laughing matter.”
The short sketch is an attempt to make a complex issue accessible to the public.
The video is part of Google’s months-long publicity blitz that has seen the tech giant use its considerable platform to try and convince the public the ACCC draft code for digital platforms is unworkable.
Last month, it was accused of bullying when it published an open letter and yellow warning signs on its search engine’s website and launched an international scare campaign that claimed the Australian public’s access to Google Search and YouTube “will be hurt by new regulation”.
Google told YouTubers and their fans that “big news businesses” could misuse personal data and make unjustified demands for money to the detriment of YouTube users, a claim the ACCC has rejected as false.
“Google isn’t against a code of conduct that governs how we work with Aussie news publishers, but the draft code is absurdly one-sided,” Silva said
“In all of the submissions to the ACCC, only one news business proposed binding final-offer arbitration be used in the code.”
The ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said earlier this month the draft will change but the “core of the code can’t change”.
“You need an arbitration mechanism, you need a non-discrimination clause,” he said.
The sharing of personal content between family and friends would not be affected and neither would the sharing of news by Facebook users outside of Australia.