Today, Google issued an open response to an open attack laid down by News Corp. In an open letter to the European Commission, News Corp explained why they feel Google has too much power over the Internet as we see it. In their open rebuttal, Google explains all the ways that’s just plain wrong.
Google took to their European Policy blog to contend News Corp’s allegations. Almost line-by-line, Google dismantled everything News Corp was alleging. From Android’s prowess and supposed chokehold on partners to assertions Google alters their algorithm to push their own interests, the News Corp letter was taken apart.
The crux of the argument revolves around News Corp saying “The Internet should be a canvas for freedom of expression and for high quality content of enduring value.” Google’s response:
We agree about free expression and the importance of high quality content. Access to information in any given country, particularly news content, used to be controlled by a relatively small number of media organizations. Today, people have far greater choice. That has had a profound impact on newspapers, who face much stiffer competition for people’s attention and for advertising Euros.
Google has worked hard to help publishers succeed online — both in terms of generating new audiences and also increasing their digital revenues. Our search products drive over 10 billion clicks a month to 60,000 publishers’ websites, and we share billions of dollars annually with advertising publishing partners. We’ve also created a digital store on Android — Google Play — that lets news publishers offer their publications for purchase or subscription. We hope this will also increase their audience and digital revenues. In addition, we invest in initiatives like Google’s Journalism Fellowships, and help train thousands of journalists through our Google for Media program.
News Corp is easily part of that “small number of media organizations” fraternity. They control Fox News, The Sun, and News of the World. If you recall, News of the World was embroiled in a widespread wiretapping scheme not long ago, so News Corp’s hands aren’t exactly clean.
On the flip side, Google may not be as free and open as they seem. In a search for the original open letter from News Corp to the EC, the first page of Google results was a litany of articles about this rebuttal. In a search for “open letter news corp” or “news corp open letter”, it seems reasonable the actual letter should hit in the first few results, not teetering on ending up on page two.
Google isn’t nefarious, and News Corp isn’t necessarily wrong. They just don’t see eye-to-eye, here. Google wants to democratize information gathering, and have done a good job. News Corp wants to frame the message on any topic, and via their various outlets, have done a good job. The European Commission is, unfortunately, stuck right in the middle of this one.