The open web was not threatened by forcing Google and Facebook to pay publishers for news links on their platforms, a parliamentary inquiry will hear on Monday.
The idea the open web, and search engines in particular, would be broken by the news bargaining code, pushed by Google at an earlier hearing, was "disingenuous at best and misinformation at worst", said media academic Dr Belinda Barnet.
Monday's hearing is the first since Google threatened to cut off Australia from its web search service because it said the proposed code was unfair and paying for links to certain kinds of information would break how the open web works.
Dr Barnet, who authored a book on the history of hypertext, will tell the parliament committee the web may have been founded on freedom and openness, but that's not the reality of the web today.
"If extracting payment for links, or views, or clicks, or snippets, is breaking search - they've already broken it," Dr Barnet said.
"These platforms have been extracting data for every click and scroll and hover for decades now, from you."
Google's business model was charging advertisers to place links based on that data.
In a message that appeared on the top of Google result pages for Australian users, the company's Australian managing director Mel Silva said the company was not against a new law, but it needed to be fair.
"If a search engine has to pay to show links, what's to stop links elsewhere coming with a price tag, too?" the company said in an open letter. Key principles of the open internet would unravel, it said, "something neither a search engine nor anyone who enjoys the benefits of the free and open web should accept".
That was a false premise, said Dr Barnet, as the web was not currently free or open due to the power imbalance between the platforms and every other citizen of the web.
"Rather than a decentralised, equitable space, we now have a web that is controlled by a couple of major platforms who trade in your data," Dr Barnet said.
"The dice are loaded in Google and Facebook's favour."
"They cost you something: the price is your data. Just hovering over an article or a snippet or any piece of content on these platforms costs you data and they are the gatekeepers of the internet. Most Australians don't get a choice," she said.
The news media bargaining code was originally pitched as a voluntary scheme, but news publishers told a hearing last week they faced difficulties reaching an agreement with the tech platforms.
In April last year the Morrison government asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook.
Google said it would soon release a new product called Google News Showcase that would pay publishers for content.
On Sunday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had spoken with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg about the impact the code would have on the social media company.
"Mark Zuckerberg didn't convince me to back down," Mr Frydenberg said.