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Microsoft backs law that could see Google remove search engine from Australia

Google and Facebook are fighting a proposed code that would make them share revenue with news publishers.

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James Martin/CNET

Microsoft on Wednesday threw its support behind a proposed Australian law that would compel tech companies to share royalties with news publishers. Google and Facebook have fought the draft regulatory code, which would force them into mediated negotiations with publishers.

"The code reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses," Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a release. "While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we'd be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us."

Last month, Google threatened to remove its search engine from Australia if the code became law. That followed Facebook saying that its users could be blocked from sharing news.

Smith also noted that Microsoft would invest in Bing, its search engine, to bring it closer to its competition. Google currently has 94% of the country's search market, according to industry data cited by Reuters.

Google didn't respond directly to Microsoft's release, but the company has previously argued that the code would break the way its search works and run counter to the fundamental principle of the internet in its current form.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.