Microsoft throws shade at Google over its threat to leave Australia

Google News Pixel 4
Google News Pixel 4 (Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft today came out in support of Australia's proposed News Media Bargaining Code, a new measure aimed at making search engines pay news publishers.
  • The company criticized Google for threatening to pull Search away from the country if the move was implemented.
  • Google had previously criticized the Bargaining Code as "unworkable."

Microsoft has risen up in support of an Australian law that requires search engines to pay publishers for news while issuing a sharp critique of Google.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Microsoft President Brad Smith highlighted the power imbalance between digital news platforms and Australian news businesses. Microsoft supported the proposed News Media Bargaining Code, arguing that it was a reasonable move that would help support Australian news businesses. The company isn't currently subject to the legislation, but Smith says that it would happily abide by those rules should that become necessary.

Microsoft also offered to cover costs for businesses that would move their advertising to Bing over Google, should there be any disruption. The company didn't name Google at this point, but it would more directly address them later, saying:

One thing is clear: while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat. We appreciate what Australia has long meant for Microsoft's growth as a company, and we are committed to supporting the country's national security and economic success.

Google had previously threatened to leave the country if the code was implemented, saying that it would pose an "unmanageable financial and operational risk." Google instead advocated for its Google News Showcase, a program that allowed it to pay news publishers on its own terms. News Showcase has already gone live in France, Brazil, and select other countries.

In response to this, Australian PM Scott Morrison said:

We don't respond to threats. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That's done in our Parliament. It's done by our government. And that's how things work here in Australia.

He later suggested that Bing would be sufficient as a replacement if Google was unable to step up.

Michael Allison