Microsoft has just become a vocal participant in the escalating war of words between the Australian government and Google, over the issue of platforms paying for content they link to.
Google has threatened to block searches Down Under should the Australian government implement a policy it’s shopping around, that would make sites that aggregate and link to news stories obligated to pay the publications they’re linking to. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded equally bullishly, saying that Australia won’t respond to threats and suggesting Bing could be used as an alternative, should Google make good on its threat.
The king of personal computers and Xboxes has now stepped into the fray, and announced it’s ready, willing and able to step up to meet Australia’s search engine needs in the event that Google pulls out. Furthermore, Microsoft president Brad Smith has thrown the company’s full support behind Australia’s proposed media policy in a blog post.
Microsoft is going hard
“Microsoft fully supports the News Media Bargaining Code. The code reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses. It also recognises the important role search plays, not only to consumers but to the thousands of Australian small businesses that rely on search and advertising technology to fund and support their organisations,” Smith wrote.
“While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us,” he added.
The blog post also reveals that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella met with Morrison and Australia’s communications minister last week.
According to a report on TechRadar, Microsoft also said it will help small businesses transfer their online advertising to Bing “with no transfer costs”, should Google make good on its threat to leave.
So, it looks like the ball’s in Google’s court now, and we imagine tech giants are viewing the situation with no small amount of interest.