Rupert Murdoch's News Corp sent an open letter to the European Commission last week to complain about Google (something Murdoch has been doing openly for years).
On Thursday, Google took to its Europe blog to address the complaints, and respond to individual statements made by News Corp. It starts off saying how important free expression and high quality content are, and talks about all the ways Google helps publishers, including search (which it says drives over 10 billion clicks a month to 60,000 publishers' websites), ads (which includes sharing billions of dollars annually with publishing partners), and Google Play, which lets publishers offer their publications for purchase or subscription and potentially increase their digital revenues. It also points out that Google invests in journalism-related initiatives like fellowships and training programs.
To a claim by News Corp that Google is a "platform for piracy and the spread of malicious networks" and a "company that boasts about its ability to track traffic [but] chooses to ignore the unlawful and unsavoury content that surfaces after the simplest of searches," Google says:
Google has done more than almost any other company to help tackle online piracy. Search: In 2013 we removed 222 million web pages from Google Search due to copyright infringement. The average take-down time is now just six hours. And we downgrade websites that regularly violate copyright in our search rankings. Video: We’ve invested tens of millions of dollars in innovative technology -- called ContentID -- to tackle piracy on YouTube.
Google is also an industry leader in combating child sexual abuse imagery online. We use hashing technology to remove illegal imagery from all our products and from the search index. We have safe modes for both Search and YouTube that filter out inappropriate content. And we are committed to protecting our users’ security. It’s why we remove malware from our search results and other products, and protect more than 1 billion users every day from phishing and malware with our Safe Browsing warnings.
It counters claims about using its power to make it hard for people to access info independently and meaningfully and that it's willing to exploit its dominant market position to stifle competition by pointing to the direct traffic of sites like WSJ.com and TheSun.co.uk, giving people new ways to access info (such as on mobile devices), and competition in search from Amazon, Yelp, Kayak, Expedia, TripAdvisor, etc.
It also talks about its own answers versus other websites:
Larry Page, our co-founder, has always believed that the perfect search engine would "understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want." Initially, ten blue links were the best answer we could give. But now we have the ability to provide direct answers to users' queries, which is much quicker and easier for them. If you are searching for the weather, you want the weather where you are, on the results page, not just links to weather sites. Or directions: if your query is "where is the nearest pharmacy?", you want a map with directions, not just links to other sites. This is especially important on mobile where screens are smaller and typing is harder.
That's really just a taste of Google's response. Take a look at the whole thing for more point-by-point arguments.
Image via Twitter