Much of the focus surrounding the government's media bargaining code has been on redirecting Google's revenue empire toward Australia's struggling news media outlets, but it's completely misguided, digital experts say.
Google and Facebook are in one corner of the ring while the government and news media outlets are in the other.
That's been the story so far anyway, but Digital Rights Watch programme and partnership director Lucie Krahulcova is concerned it's missing the point.
She said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's inquiry into digital platforms highlighted a lot of the issues that had emerged from Google and Facebook's dominance over the internet.
But while it was a promising step forward, she said the government's priority focusing on laws to address the news media's competition imbalance was wrong.
"I think picking this to run with first is disappointing," Ms Krahulcova said.
"It's packaged as the war on Google and Facebook but, really, there's a total lack of technical understanding of what the broader impacts are for a lot of different technologies and tools."
Treasury's bill, which attempts to address issues identified within the consumer watchdog's inquiry, focuses on pushing Google and Facebook to bargain with news media outlets over the revenue they generate indexing links to their news pages.
It will also force the companies to alert news media outlets to algorithm changes that could affect how their stories are ranked in search results.
In response, Google's Australian managing director Mel Silva told senators in January the company would be forced to ditch its search engine for Australians if the laws passed through Parliament.
The threat captured headlines and the attention of senators, who scrutinised why Google would go to extreme lengths to avoid the proposed legislation.
But Ms Krahulcova said it all came down to that initial lack of understanding.
Google's hold over the internet started from humble beginnings.
As a service indexing all pages on the internet, the tech company quickly realised it could make money selling the top spot of search results as advertising space for businesses willing to pay.
Now, through trackers and cookies, it can collect incredibly granular internet user data and then on-sell it to companies looking to deliver targeted, and successful, advertising campaigns.
Where newspapers could only guarantee their readers' eyeballs to willing advertisers, Google can now offer the world's.
"Those are all things people are largely unaware happen in the background of their interactions as they're looking at their screen and then the question is 'Who gets to profit off of that?'," Ms Krahulcova said.
"Obviously that's much more valuable than any advertising data the individual publishers can gather on their own websites because they don't have this cross-internet tracking capability that these giant platforms have."
The government has remained tight-lipped on its response if Google makes good on its promise to pull the search engine in Australia. Many Australians rely on the popular search engine for everyday information and small and medium businesses heavily rely on revenue generated through its advertising services.
It's a hole that can't simply be plugged by another major tech company's solution. The government's willingness to accept Microsoft's search engine alternative, Bing, is something that makes little sense to Digital Rights Watch.
Brad Smith, the software company's global president, said he had spoken with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher in early February and supported the government's plans for a media code.
"While other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat," Mr Smith said.
"We appreciate what Australia has long meant for Microsoft's growth as a company, and we are committed to supporting the country's national security and economic success."
But Ms Krahulcova thinks it's just swapping out one multinational company for another.
"In terms of competition, handing the reins to Microsoft and Bing is a real plot twist because Microsoft, in many ways, is actually doing a lot more business in Australia. It's just branded itself better in the eyes of politicians," Ms Krahulcova said.
"To me that just signals that what this is really about is sticking it to Google because they can't figure out a way to effectively regulate them, and I think that's worrying.
"It seems like you're destroying competition, rather than creating it."
The core issue with the legislation, Ms Krahulcova said, was one to do with money. It was important to support journalism, especially in regional Australia, but this was a strange way of doing that.
The European Union introduced rules to regulate data protection and user privacy under the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which allowed the union to issue big fines to corporations not complying.
Ms Krahulcova said this method wasn't perfect but at least provided some protections to users and generated revenue that could be directed toward public interest journalism initiatives.
She said the government could also consider strong tax reforms for the multinational companies along with expanding the legislation beyond just Google and Facebook.
It was also important to ensure the smaller news outlets were included to ensure the market wasn't being skewed even further toward the bigger, traditional news outlets.
The result of the code's skewed focus on news media outlets has ultimately meant the privacy advocacy group and the global tech giant have found themselves largely on the same side of the argument.
"A lot of people have said that Google threatening to pull search is is a nuclear option, but I don't think this government has given them much wiggle room," Ms Krahulcova said.
"There's a real history of rushing through tech legislation, without any proper discussion and debate, promising amendments that don't come through years later."
It's understood the government intends to introduce the bill to Parliament for a vote soon, with hopes it will pass in time for its announced start date of the reforms on July 1, 2021.
Ms Krahulcova would like the discussion to shift in the meantime to focus more on why the search engine's revenue model has been allowed to grow largely unregulated and without scrutiny over the Australian data it collected.
"I think there can be a real discussion about how these companies are extracting so much value out of Australia," Ms Krahulcova said.
"What have we done to protect Australians and everyone who lives here from [Google's] data mining? And then how do we keep some of that money to serve the Australian public and to serve Australian interests but how do we do that without tearing apart the internet?"
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