Google has been ordered to enter fresh negotiations or face fines of more than $1 million a day.
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  • French antitrust authorities have hit Google with a R8.5 billion fine.
  • The tech firm must negotiate a new deal with news outlets or face fines of nearly R14 million a day.
  • A Google spokesperson told Bloomberg the company was "very disappointed" with the decision.
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Google has been hit with a $593 million (R8.5 billion) fine by French antitrust authorities after failing to negotiate a deal with local news publishers to pay for their content.

The move is the latest twist in an ongoing battle between social media companies, regulators, and news outlets around the world.

Australia has led the charge in enforcing tough new rules on the likes of Facebook and Google, demanding they either pay a fixed fee to display news content on their websites, or strike their own deals directly with publishers. That feud reached boiling point in February, when Facebook briefly blocked Australian users from sharing news on its properties altogether.

The row effectively ended in Australia when both Facebook and Google signed multi-million dollar deals with local news publishers to display their content on their respective news feed and search engine. But regulators in the US, the EU, and Canada took note.

Earlier this year, Google and a French news publishers' lobby, Alliance de la Press d'Information Générale, said they had agreed to a copyright framework that would see the tech giant reimburse them for their content.

On Tuesday, however, Isabelle de Silva, president of France's Autorité de la concurrence, said Google had offered a "negligible" amount of money for news content, comparable to the amount it pays for dictionary entries and weather updates.

"The sanction of €500 million takes into account the exceptional seriousness of the breaches observed," Silva said.

As part of the ruling, Google has been ordered to enter fresh negotiations with the relevant French publishers within two months, or else face fines of up to R14 million a day.

A Google spokesperson told Bloomberg the company was "very disappointed" with the decision, adding that it "acted in good faith throughout the entire process."

The fine against Google is the second largest in the Autorité's history, surpassed only by the around $1.2 billion (around R17 billion) penalty it issued against Apple for alleged anticompetitive practices last year.

Google has been hit by an array of fines by European lawmakers in recent years. The tech giant was hit with $10 billion (around R144 billion) worth of fines between 2017 and 2019 over various alleged antitrust breaches.

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