Google criticizes Microsoft for its support for the news bill

Google has accused Microsoft of “naked corporate opportunism” after backing US legislation to make tech platforms pay for information, reigniting the long-standing feud between tech giants.

The couple traded beards when Microsoft President Brad Smith appeared at a congressional hearing on Friday to discuss a bill that would make it easier for media organizations to strike deals with tech platforms on the way their content is distributed – similar to that adopted. in Australia last month.

In one long blog post published while attending the hearing, Smith argued that “monetizing this traffic has become increasingly difficult for news agencies because most of the profits have been drained by Google.”

“Google has effectively transformed itself into the ‘front page’ of news, taking ownership of the reader relationship and relegating news content on their properties to a commodity entry,” he said.

In a response PublishKent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs at Google, accused Microsoft of “naked corporate opportunism,” arguing the company “was making self-serving statements and. . . even ready to break the functioning of the open Web in order to undermine a rival ”.

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to comment, saying, “We are focused on the issue that Congress is considering today.”

Microsoft and Google are fierce rivals who have bickered for nearly a decade, often in antitrust cases. But the groups came to a truce in 2016, agreeing to withdraw all competition complaints against each other. Today, businesses compete in cloud computing, research, video conferencing, and email, among others.

Two senators – Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Republican John Kennedy of Louisiana – reintroduced the bipartisan bill on Wednesday, which seeks to shift commercial power to struggling news groups from mainstream tech platforms.

It comes weeks after Australia passed a similar law, also backed by Microsoft. During debate on the bill, Facebook imposed a controversial news blackout on Australia until Canberra agreed to several amendments in its favor.

During Friday’s hearing, journalist Glenn Greenwald, founder of The Intercept, said the US proposals risked further consolidating media power in the country. “I am particularly concerned that we have an increasingly concentrated news outlet, where the New York Times is becoming like the Amazon of journalism,” he told the committee.

Google’s Walker also claimed on Friday that Microsoft was trying to deflect attention from recent revelations that vulnerabilities in its software played a role in facilitating two major hacking campaigns targeting hundreds of thousands of businesses and companies. government agencies around the world.

Microsoft has come under scrutiny this year after cyber experts said suspected Russian spies exercised “systemic weaknesses” in its authentication process to gain unimpeded access to data from the SolarWinds hack , which compromised the US Treasury and Commerce Department.

Last week, the company also announced that four faults in its Exchange software had been exploited by a Chinese state-backed hacker group called Hafnium to gain access to the victims’ email systems.

Although it has released fixes for the bugs, a flood of other hacking groups – including ransomware attackers – have now rushed to exploit vulnerabilities, prompting warnings from US and UK officials. It is estimated that 30,000 American companies have been affected.

Unlike its rivals, whose executives have been taken to Congress several times over the past year on charges of anti-competitive behavior, Microsoft has largely escaped much of the criticism leveled at Big Tech.

It diverges from Microsoft’s treatment of policymakers in the 1990s, when its dominance of the IT industry led to a long legal battle, with the company narrowly avoiding disbandment.

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