Australia’s proposals are being closely watched around the world, as regulators increasingly train their focus on the rapidly changing sector.
News media worldwide have suffered in the digital economy, where big tech firms overwhelmingly capture advertising revenue.
The crisis has been exacerbated by the coronavirus-triggered economic collapse, with dozens of Australian newspapers closed and hundreds of journalists sacked in recent months.
Unlike other countries’ so-far unsuccessful efforts to force the platforms to pay for news, the Australian initiative relies on competition law rather than copyright regulations.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which is drafting the government’s code of conduct, hit back at Google’s open letter saying it “contains misinformation”.
The consumer watchdog said the digital giant would “not be required” to share additional user data with the news media or charge Australians to use its free services “unless it chooses to do so”.
“The draft code will allow Australian news businesses to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists’ work that is included on Google services,” it said in a statement.
It has strong support from local media outlets and is expected to be introduced this year.