Google threatens to block search engines in Australia if it is forced to pay for news on Science & Tech News
Google has threatened to block its search engine in Australia if it is forced to pay media for its news content.
Both Google and social media giant Facebook – which has also broken the rules and threatened to remove news from its feed for Australian users – fights against government plans for a new digital message code.
It would get tech giants to negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters, and a government-appointed arbitrator would set the price if they don’t make a deal.
“Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk of this version of the Code becoming law, we have no choice but to make Google search unavailable in Australia,” said Mel Silva, company director for Australia and New Zealand, told a Senate investigation into the bill.
“And that would be a bad result not only for us, but also for Australians, the media community and the small businesses that use our products on a daily basis.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hit back immediately, saying, “We are not responding to threats.”
Ms. Silva said the company is ready to pay a broad and diverse group of news publishers for the value they have added, but not according to the rules currently proposed, including payments for links and snippets.
She suggested a number of changes to the bill, adding, “We believe there is a workable way forward.”
Simon Milner, a vice president for Facebook, said the sheer volume of deals he would have to close was impractical.
Google dominates internet research in Australia. Ms. Silva informs the senators that about 95% is processed through the company.
Mr Morrison told reporters in Brisbane, “Australia makes our rules about things you can do in Australia.
“It’s done in our parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia.”
He added: “People who want to work with it in Australia are very welcome. But we do not respond to threats.”
Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found that Google and Facebook had too much market power in the media industry. This situation posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.
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Facebook and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are some of America’s best-known tech companies.
The US government this week asked Australia to abolish the proposed laws and proposed that it pursue a voluntary code instead.
However, the Australia Institute, an independent think tank, said politicians should stand their ground against the tech giants.
“Google’s testimony today is part of a pattern of threatening behavior that discourages anyone who values our democracy,” said Peter Lewis, director of the institute’s Center for Responsible Technology.