Google Says Microsoft’s Stance on Information Is Effort to Distract From Hack

A protracted-simmering feud between tech giants reignited on Friday, with Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT -0.58% president lashing out at Google and the search juggernaut’s high lawyer firing again.

The weird public squabbling, which included the lawyer saying that Microsoft is criticizing Google to distract from its personal position in two latest high-profile hacks, got here in opposition to the backdrop of a congressional listening to concerning the influence of on-line platforms on the information trade. It’s one in all a number of high-profile disputes this 12 months round Silicon Valley, together with Fb Inc. FB -2.00% and Apple Inc. sparring over privacy-related points.

Microsoft President Brad Smith mentioned Google at size in his ready remarks at Friday’s listening to, saying that on-line information is the meals that feeds Google’s search and promoting community, and suggesting methods the search big might higher assist the information trade. He expressed his assist for laws that may give information organizations extra bargaining energy with Fb and Google.

Different supporters of the invoice embody the Information Media Alliance, an trade commerce group that features Information Corp, writer of The Wall Avenue Journal.

Simply forward of the listening to, Google’s senior vice chairman of world affairs, Kent Walker, shot again in a weblog publish. He defended Google’s assist of journalism, asserting that it has paid publishers for hyperlinks to their work and accused Microsoft of “bare company opportunism.”

An government of Google, based mostly in Mountain View, Calif., says Microsoft is ‘lobbying for laws that profit their very own pursuits.’

Picture: Reuters

“They’re reverting to their acquainted playbook of attacking rivals and lobbying for laws that profit their very own pursuits,” Mr. Walker wrote. “They’re now making self-serving claims and are even prepared to interrupt the way in which the open internet works in an effort to undercut a rival.”

Mr. Walker mentioned it was “no coincidence” that Microsoft’s assaults on Google got here amid persevering with scrutiny of the software program big’s position in two latest hacks.

Microsoft presents a information app and web site that it says embody content material from greater than 1,200 publishers. Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., mentioned in October that it was committing $1 billion to a brand new product referred to as Google Information Showcase that can assist publishers all over the world.

Mr. Walker characterised Microsoft’s historical past of supporting information as “spotty” and mentioned that the rival has paid out much less to publishers than Google.

Microsoft declined to touch upon Google’s assertion. Google declined to remark additional.

The dispute was spawned by a globe-spanning debate over new laws that may require platforms to pay publishers for linking to their information websites. Final month, Australia launched laws that may compel such funds, triggering multiyear licensing offers between Google and Fb with content material suppliers comparable to Information Corp.

The Justice Division is submitting an antitrust lawsuit in opposition to Google. Right here’s how the tech big ended up within the crosshairs of federal regulators. WSJ’s Jason Bellini experiences. Picture: Spencer Platt/Getty Photos (Video from 10/20/20)

Google had threatened to tug out of Australia over the laws.

Throughout his testimony Friday, Mr. Smith described Australia’s legislation as affordable and solid Google’s plans to exit as detrimental to the nation, its individuals and publishers. He mentioned he and Microsoft Chief Government Satya Nadella assured the nation’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, that they have been prepared to run Bing at a decrease margin than Google as a result of it was essential “for us all to succeed collectively.”

“When corporations begin threatening international locations and saying that if their legislators cross legal guidelines they don’t like they’ll pull up and depart, then one thing appears somewhat out of whack,” Mr. Smith mentioned. He added: “Nobody must be above the legislation. No particular person, no authorities, no firm, no expertise.”

The stress from Microsoft comes as Google defends itself in opposition to the Justice Division’s antitrust lawsuit, filed final fall, alleging it has unlawfully maintained its dominant place as the net’s pre-eminent search engine by putting enterprise agreements to close out rivals. A trial isn’t anticipated till late 2023, however the regulatory stress has infected tensions between tech corporations dealing with new scrutiny in Washington.

Microsoft and Google have battled over who can be the web’s gatekeeper for the reason that early 2000s, when Web Explorer started to offer technique to what was then a search-engine startup. As Microsoft fended off an antitrust inquiry, Google surged in prominence and have become the net’s main browser, e-mail supplier and mobile-phone service. Tensions between the tech corporations heightened as their competitors expanded to new companies.

Microsoft and Google are each rivals and companions in quite a few enterprise traces. Microsoft’s Bing search engine competes with Google’s extra broadly used service. Google’s efforts to construct up its cloud computing division convey the corporate into extra direct competitors with Microsoft. However the Redmond, Wash.-based software program firm additionally depends on Google’s Android software program on a few of its Floor devices.

Microsoft has a protracted historical past of lobbying in opposition to Google. Underneath Chief Government Steve Ballmer, Microsoft kicked off an anti-Google assault promoting marketing campaign referred to as “Scroogled” that ran from 2012 to 2014.

When Mr. Nadella took over in 2014, he sought a extra peaceable relationship and ended the assaults. The chief liable for the promoting marketing campaign, Mark Penn, departed in 2015. In 2016, Microsoft and Google brokered a truce and withdrew their regulatory complaints in opposition to one another globally.

Microsoft generated round $7.7 billion in search promoting income in its newest monetary 12 months. Google final 12 months had round $104 billion in search-related gross sales.

Write to Tripp Mickle at Tripp.Mickle@wsj.com and Aaron Tilley at aaron.tilley@wsj.com

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