Microsoft and Google openly feuding amid hacks, competition inquiries

Microsoft vs Google: Tech giants trade blows over hacks and monopoly inquiries as they try to throw each other under the bus with lawmakers and regulators in bitter public feud

  • Google faces bipartisan complaints – and journalistic ire – over its role in gutting the media industry’s advertisement revenue 
  • Microsoft, meanwhile, faces scrutiny for its role in back-to-back cybersecurity breaches 
  • Microsoft President Brad Smith said representatives that media organizations are being forced to ‘use Google’s tools, operate on Google’s ad exchanges, contribute data to Google’s operations, and pay Google money’ 
  • In a blog post, Google argued that Microsoft was trying to divert attention from a potentially devastating attack on Exchange emails servers by hackers 

Driven in part by pressure from lawmakers and regulators over the extraordinary power the two technology companies wield over American life, the California-based search engine giant and Washington-based software firm are wrestling to throw each other under the bus.

Tensions between Microsoft Corp and Alphabet-owned Google have been simmering for a while but the rivalry has become unusually public in recent days as executives from both firms have been put on the defensive over competing crises.

Google faces bipartisan complaints – and journalistic ire – over its role in gutting the media industry’s advertisement revenue, the subject of a Congressional antitrust hearing on Friday.

Microsoft, meanwhile, faces scrutiny for its role in back-to-back cybersecurity breaches.

Addressing lawmakers on Friday at a House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee on news, Microsoft President Brad Smith was due to fire a shot at Google, telling representatives that media organizations are being forced to ‘use Google’s tools, operate on Google’s ad exchanges, contribute data to Google’s operations, and pay Google money,

In the first, the same allegedly Russian hackers who compromised the Texas software firm SolarWinds Corp also took advantage of Microsoft’s cloud software to break into some of the company’s clients. The second, disclosed on March 2, saw allegedly Chinese hackers abuse previously unknown vulnerabilities to vacuum up emails from Microsoft customers around the world.

Addressing lawmakers on Friday at a House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee on news, Microsoft President Brad Smith was due to fire a shot at Google, telling representatives that media organizations are being forced to ‘use Google’s tools, operate on Google’s ad exchanges, contribute data to Google’s operations, and pay Google money,’ according to excerpts of his testimony published by Axios.

Google on Friday took aim at Microsoft, accusing its technology rival of ‘distraction’ for siding with governments seeking to force tech platforms to pay media organizations for news content.

In a blog post, Google argued that Microsoft was trying to divert attention from a potentially devastating attack on Exchange emails servers by hackers taking advantage of software vulnerabilities.

The comments came amid a heated battle of words over efforts in Australia and elsewhere to require digital services to negotiate payments for news content.

Google senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker took more shots at the company’s rival in a blog post, saying of Microsoft: ‘They are now making self-serving claims and are even willing to break the way the open web works in an effort to undercut a rival’

Google and Facebook have resisted mandatory payments, while Microsoft has taken a more collaborative stance.

Google senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker took more shots at the company’s rival in a blog post, saying of Microsoft: ‘They are now making self-serving claims and are even willing to break the way the open web works in an effort to undercut a rival.’

Walker added, ‘This important debate should be about the substance of the issue, and not derailed by naked corporate opportunism.’

In his letter, Smith lauded the role news organizations play in defending democracy and contended that the ‘internet gutted the already ailing local news business by devouring advertising revenue and luring away paid subscribers.’

Microsoft has lobbied for other countries to follow Australia’s lead in calling for news outlets to be paid for stories published online, a move opposed by Facebook and Google.

‘News today is part of the technology ecosystem, and all of us who participate in this ecosystem have both an opportunity and responsibility to help journalism flourish,’ Smith said.

Backers of Google and Facebook have claimed that mandatory payments for news links would fundamentally change the way the internet works and ultimately be detrimental to free online services. 

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