10:59 GMT27 February 2021
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    In December, Australia introduced a code in the parliament that would address the alleged disparity in the bargaining process between news media and digital platforms. Google said last week it would pull its search engine from Australia if the bargaining code for digital platforms is adopted in the country.

    According to Dr Binoy Kampmark, senior lecturer at RMIT University, Google will probably be left unfazed by the Australian proposition, but the Australians might be forced to seek alternative information platforms.

    Sputnik: How damaging was Google’s “experiment” for ordinary Australians?

    Binoy Kampmark: Google is conducting an experiment of information power, claiming that it is not a news outlet merely a platform for information. It also claims that it should not be forced to pay for journalism shared on its platform, as it does enough by directing advertisement revenue and publicity to such users. 

    The damage that Google can do is yet to be tested, but it is clear that Australians may have to look to alternative information platforms in this skirmish. 

    As for the fallout of its actions, it is hard to take claims made by Google on this too seriously, as it is in its interests to emphasise the monopoly it has over information through its search engine. To that end, experiments it claims to have conducted "burying" Australian sites are hard to verify.

    Sputnik: How financially damaging could these laws be for Google?

    Binoy Kampmark: Google has claimed that this is a response to the mandatory code on revenue sharing that the Australian government is attempting to impose. But Australia is small beer in the broader market. 

    The greater problems for Google will be if similar legislation is adopted by, for instance, by the European Union. Within such a large zone, the stakes become higher and more serious.

    The bigger question is not even the issue of sharing revenue in that context, but reining in the power of Google and other tech giants.

    Sputnik: Why would Google run the “experiment” with risks of promoting unreliable news websites?

    Binoy Kampmark: Google does not care. It is in the business of promoting information, though it has shown a history of promoting the information it prefers as a company. It should be known that Google always filters and adjusts its search results, depending on the forum used. The issue of low quality content is less an issue as to what content is permitted within the jurisdiction. The battle against misinformation, to that end, is mischaracterised.

    Sputnik: What’s your take on this type of Big Tech censorship?

    Binoy Kampmark: Such companies earn and retain their influence through such algorithms and searches. They have also become too powerful, meaning that private companies now have full control over the platforms of distributing both private and public information. 

    Government censorship is an awful thing, but Big Tech censorship is not much better.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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