While Europe ramps up its battle against Facebook and Google over news publishing payments, Microsoft has been waiting in the wings to take over with its own search engine, Bing. Now the company is stepping into the spotlight in one of its most brazen moves yet.
On Monday, Microsoft announced it was teaming up with Europe’s four leading news publishing lobby groups to ensure that big tech would be forced to pay news sites for listing their content on platforms like Google News and Facebook.
The coalition will propose a plan for the European Union’s legislation that would echo Australia’s policy on Facebook. Meanwhile, Facebook and Australia have negotiated a deal to allow news to be published on the platform after the social media company banned all news in Australia last week. Microsoft is a vocal supporter of Australia, and CEO Satya Nadella even spoke with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Bing’s chances of expanding in the country.
The Microsoft/lobby group coalition argues that Facebook and Google are “gatekeepers that have dominant market power,” and they’re not wrong. Google takes up 93% of market share for search engines in Europe, while Bing lags behind in second place with 3.4%, according to StatCounter.
Google and Facebook are against these proposed laws because paying news publishers would drive up costs and potentially reduce the companies’ dominance in the EU if news were banned. The companies likely hope to deter other governments from adopting similar laws by setting an example.
However, other governments are already planning to follow the EU and Australia, including Canada, which is preparing laws of its own. The UK plans to adopt a more lenient version of the laws, while France has already agreed on a licensing deal with Google. EU lawmakers are worried that their own laws would echo France’s deal, which resulted in Google paying far less than the Australia-style laws would have mandated, likely due to a lack of an arbitration system.
Google’s battle with the EU dates back to 2014, when the Spanish government passed a law that required Google to pay for a license to list news articles. The tech giant responded by pulling Google News from the country entirely.
Fernando de Yarza, president of lobby group News Media Europe, told the Financial Times: “The experiences in France and Australia have shown us that there’s a real need for a binding instrument.”