Google Appeals Against €500 Million Fine Imposed By French Agency After Dispute With Local Media

·3-min read

Google is appealing against €500 million penalty levied by France's antitrust agency for failing to follow its instructions on how to conduct negotiations with media publishers.

The Competition Authority said that Google's appeal would not prevent the tech behemoth from paying the penalties.

After a dispute with local media over the payment for news content, Google is appealing against €500 million (more than Rs 43,000,000,000) penalty levied by France's antitrust agency. The financial penalty came as worldwide pressure mounted on online platforms to share more of the cash generated by exploiting media publishers' material.

Sebastien Missoffe, the head of Google France stated that the company disagrees with several legal components and believes the fine is excessive in comparison to its attempts to achieve an agreement and comply with the new law.

According to The Guardian, Missoffe also said: "We continue to work hard to resolve this case and put deals in place. This includes expanding offers to 1,200 publishers, clarifying aspects of our contracts, and sharing more data as requested by the French Competition Authority."

Meanwhile, a Google spokesperson said: "We have acted in good faith throughout the entire process. The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement, and the reality of how news works on our platforms."

The American tech giant Google was penalised by the French antitrust authority for failing to follow its instructions on how to conduct negotiations with publishers. The Competition Authority said this week that Google's appeal would not prevent the tech behemoth from paying the penalties.

The dispute centred on whether the Alphabet company violated temporary instructions given by the Competition Authority. It was also stated that such talks with any news publishers who requested them should take place within three months.

In July, the watchdog ordered Google to submit plans over the next two months detailing how it will reimburse news organisations and other publishers for the use of their content. If Google fails to comply, it could face fines of up to €900,000 per day.

APIG, a news publisher that represents the majority of major French print news publishers such as Le Figaro, Le Monde, SEPM, and AFP, is among those accusing Google of failing to hold negotiations with them to find common ground for online news content payment.

It should be understood that publishers can charge for the display of news "snippets" on search engine results under the European Union's copyright directive, which went into effect in 2019.

The penalty comes as online tech platforms like Google and Facebook face rising international pressure to share more of the revenue they earn from media publishers. Regulators are already putting pressure on them, concerned that they are exploiting their scale and market dominance to benefit themselves.

In February, as a result of the dispute between tech giants and publishers, Facebook temporarily removed news from its site for its Australian customers. After reaching an agreement with the Australian government, the social networking business altered its decision after a few days.

Two antitrust investigations into the social media platform have been launched by regulators in the United Kingdom and Europe, while Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) began a probe into Google and Apple since becoming an independent regulator in its own right in January following the country's exit from the European Union.

In 2020, Google unveiled its News Showcase service, which has storey panels prepared by partner publications, as well as a $1 billion (£730 million) payment to publishers for their material over the next three years.

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