A long-running feud between tech giants reignited on Friday, with Microsoft Body
President lashing out at Google and the search giant’s top lawyer fighting back.
The unusual public dispute, which included the lawyer saying Microsoft is criticizing Google for distracting itself from its own role in two recent high-profile hacks, came in the context of a congressional hearing on the impact of online platforms on the news industry. It’s one of several high-profile disputes this year in Silicon Valley, including Facebook. Inc.
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and apple Inc.
discussing privacy-related issues.
Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith spoke at length about Google in his prepared remarks at Friday’s hearing, saying that online news is the food that fuels Google’s search and advertising network, and suggesting ways the giant search could better support the news industry. He voiced support for legislation that would give news organizations more bargaining power with Facebook and Google.
Other supporters of the bill include News Media Alliance, an industry trade group that includes News Corp,
editor of The Wall Street Journal.
Just before the hearing, Google Senior Vice President of Global Affairs Kent Walker responded in a blog post. He defended Google’s support for journalism, stating that it has paid publishers for links to its work and accused Microsoft of “naked corporate opportunism.”
“They are returning to their familiar playbook of attacking rivals and lobbying for regulations that serve their own best interests,” Walker wrote. “Now they are making selfish claims and are even willing to break the way the open web works in an effort to undermine a rival.”
Walker said it was “not a coincidence” that Microsoft’s attacks on Google came amid continued scrutiny of the software giant’s role in two recent attacks.
Microsoft offers a news app and website that it says includes content from more than 1,200 publishers. Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc.,
said in October it was committing $ 1 billion to a new product called the Google News Showcase that will support publishers around the world.
Walker characterized Microsoft’s history of supporting the news as “spotty” and said the rival has paid publishers less than Google.
Microsoft declined to comment on Google’s statement. Google declined to comment further.
The dispute was sparked by a worldwide debate over new regulations that would require platforms to pay publishers to link their news sites. Australia last month introduced legislation that would mandate such payments, triggering multi-year license agreements between Google and Facebook with content providers such as News Corp.
Google had threatened to withdraw from Australia over the legislation.
During his testimony on Friday, Smith described Australia’s law as reasonable and called Google’s plans to exit as damaging to the country, its people and its publishers. He said he and Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella assured the country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison that they were willing to run Bing at a lower margin than Google because it was important “for all of us to be successful together.”
“When companies start threatening countries and say that if their legislators pass laws that they don’t like, they will pull out and go, then something seems a little out of place,” Smith said. He added: “No one should be above the law. Without a person, without a government, without a company, without technology ”.
The pressure from Microsoft comes as Google defends itself against the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit, filed last fall, claiming that it has illegally maintained its dominant position as the web’s pre-eminent search engine by signing trade deals to exclude competitors. A trial is not expected until late 2023, but regulatory pressure has increased tensions among tech companies facing new scrutiny in Washington.
Microsoft and Google have fought over who would be the guardian of the Internet since the early 2000s, when Internet Explorer began to give way to what was then a search engine. When Microsoft defended itself from an antitrust investigation, Google rose to prominence and became the leading web browser, email provider, and mobile phone service. Tensions between tech companies increased as their competition expanded into new businesses.
Microsoft and Google are competitors and partners in various lines of business. Microsoft’s search engine Bing competes with Google’s most widely used service. Google’s efforts to develop its cloud computing division lead the company into more direct competition with Microsoft. But the Redmond, Washington-based software company also relies on Google’s Android software on some of its Surface devices.
Microsoft has a long history of lobbying against Google. Under the leadership of CEO Steve Ballmer, Microsoft launched an ad campaign against the Google attack called “Scroogled” that ran from 2012 to 2014.
When Nadella took office in 2014, he sought a more peaceful relationship and ended the attacks. The executive responsible for the ad campaign, Mark Penn, left in 2015. In 2016, Microsoft and Google negotiated a truce and withdrew their regulatory complaints against each other globally.
Microsoft generated about $ 7.7 billion in search ad revenue in its last financial year. Google last year had about $ 104 billion in search-related sales.
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