Google says fake news PL should not apply to search engines | Legislation

After WhatsApp lists the points it considers controversial in the fake news PL (bill 2630/2020), it is Google’s turn to present its criticisms. For the company, search engines cannot be subject to the rules set out in the proposal because they contribute to the fight against misinformation and work in a very different way to that of social networks and messaging applications.

In an article signed by Google’s director of engineering for Latin America, Berthier-Ribeiro Neto, the company stated that it recognizes the importance of discussing the problem of misinformation, but considers that the project cannot include rules for search engines. “It is clear that including search engines in the PL of fake news is the same as accusing the drug of causing the disease,” says the company.

The text was released in response to the move in the Chamber of Deputies to include search engines in the project. The text approved in the Senate is restricted to social networks and messaging applications. However, the preliminary version of the report by Congressman Orlando Silva (PCdoB-SP) has several changes, including the provision that the rules will also apply to search engines.

Google says it works every day to combat misinformation, but questions the change in the project. “We don’t believe that including Google Search and other search tools in the bill is the best way. On the contrary, inclusion can jeopardize the ability of millions of Brazilians to find what they need on the internet and make more informed decisions every day, ”says the company.

In the statement, the company claims to prioritize information from public agencies and reliable media on critical issues such as health, the economy and elections, and states that the approval of the fake news PL would reduce its role in combating disinformation. This is because, according to her, the project would affect those who use the tool to check if information is really true.

Google explains it’s not a social network

The company points out that the original version of the project was restricted to social networks and messaging apps with rules that dealt with hosting personal information and content shared by users. “In no way does Search approach a social network or messaging application and should not be treated as such,” says Google.

“Search is designed to index content that is public on the internet. It is not a tool focused on hosting and sharing information between users – what you see in Search is not affected by what your friends search for, and we don’t offer ways for you to share your results with anyone, ”he continues.

Google search

The fake news PL states that platforms must act to combat the use of fake accounts, but Google points out that, unlike social networks, it does not require users to create an account to use its service. The company also questioned the part of the proposal that deals with content removal.

“As we have already explained, the results displayed in Google Search come from pages that are public on the Internet. We do not host this content and cannot delete specific pages or websites. In other words, we don’t have the power to remove content from the web, ”he explains.

Company criticizes mandatory payment for journalism

One of the changes in the version of the Chamber for the PL of fake news is the provision that platforms are required to pay for the display of journalistic content to their users – payment would not be necessary if users share links on their own. Google says the rule would put you in a position to decide where and how users in Brazil will receive information.

“This does not mean that we are not willing to reward partners for content for products with specific needs, such as the recently announced Google News Highlights,” says the company. “However, doing this across Google Search would lead to a scenario of winners and losers that would reduce the diversity of journalistic content, undermine smaller media outlets and go directly against the nature of the tool that is based primarily on relevance given by people to the contents ”.

What the fake news PL says

In addition to payment for news companies, the preliminary version of the Chamber for the PL of fake news would prohibit platforms from maintaining unidentified automated accounts and content driven without identifying the advertiser. In electoral periods, companies would also have to provide data such as paid amount and target audience for advertisements linked to candidates, coalitions and parties.

The text also determines that platforms such as Google, Facebook and WhatsApp would start to release semiannual transparency reports. The documents would be available on the companies’ websites and would offer information such as number of users and number of moderation actions due to violations of the terms of use.

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