Google says to block search engine in Australia if forced to pay for news

The search giant had warned that its 19 million Australian users would face degraded search and YouTube experiences if the new code were enforced. Australia is on course to pass laws that would make tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds.

Reuters | Updated: 22-01-2021 10:46 IST | Created: 22-01-2021 10:40 IST
Google says to block search engine in Australia if forced to pay for news
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

Alphabet Inc's Google said on Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a new code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for the right to use their content. Google's threat escalates a battle with publishers such as News Corp that is being closely watched around the world. The search giant had warned that its 19 million Australian users would face degraded search and YouTube experiences if the new code were enforced.

Australia is on course to pass laws that would make tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds. If they cannot strike a deal, a government-appointed arbitrator will decide the price. "Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia," Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a senate committee.

Silva made no mention of YouTube in prepared remarks, as the video service is expected to be exempted under revisions to the code last month. Google's comments drew a sharp rebuke from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said the country makes its rules for "things you can do in Australia."

"People who want to work with that in Australia, you're very welcome. But we don't respond to threats," Morrison told reporters. At the inquiry, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims, who has overseen the new rules, said he could not predict what the tech giants would do but said "there's always brinkmanship in serious negotiations".

"They talk of commercial deals where they're in full control of the deal," he said. "In my view that's not a commercial deal." Google has called the code overly broad and said that without revisions, offering even a limited search tool would be too risky. The company does not disclose sales from Australia, but search ads are its biggest contributor to revenue and profit globally.

The United States government this week asked Australia to scrap the proposed laws, which have broad political support, and suggested Australia should pursue a voluntary code instead. Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found Google and social media giant Facebook held too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.

Google's threat to limit its services in Australia came just hours after the internet giant reached a content-payment deal with some French news publishers as part of three-year, $1.3-billion push to support publishers. Google's testimony "is part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values our democracy," said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute's Centre for Responsible Technology.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Why unequal access to coronavirus vaccines is a threat to us all

... ...

India’s love affair with fossil fuels: the path to sustainable development?

... ...

Videos

Latest News

Brazil registers over 1,300 COVID-19 deaths for fifth straight day

Brazil registered 1,386 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday and 61,602 additional cases, according to data released by the nations Health Ministry.The South American country has suffered an enduring second wave since November, and infection rates h...

Rugby-Refereeing decisions spark furious debate after Wales win

Englands coach and captain remained tight-lipped over the controversial decisions that gave Wales two early tries in Saturdays 40-24 Six Nations victory in Cardiff on Saturday but there was no shortage of debate among pundits.Wales scored f...

REUTERS NEWS SCHEDULE 10 p.m. GMT/6:00 a.m. SGT

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have been spared direct punishment after a U.S. intelligence report implicated him in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he has not emerged unscathed. NIGERIA-SECURITY Nigeria...

Myanmar's U.N. ambassador vows to fight after junta fired him

Myanmars United Nations envoy in New York vowed to fight on Saturday after the junta fired him for urging countries to use any means necessary to reverse a Feb. 1 coup that ousted the nations elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.I decided to fig...

Give Feedback