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

Addressing conflict-related sexual violence at long last

... ...

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

Not your bitch: Campaign against 'sexist' dictionaries moves to Italy

Contains language that might offend By Umberto BacchiMILAN, March 5 Thomson Reuters Foundation - Public figures from writers to lawmakers launched a campaign on Friday to change a leading Italian dictionarys sexist definition of a woman, wh...

Passion points, current affairs, social change top conversation topic for Indian women on Twitter

Conversations by Indian women on Twitter spanned across a host of topics, right from passion points and interests to current affairs, communities as well as social change, a report by the microblogging platform said on Friday.Twitter India ...

$1.4 bn Cairn arbitration award: FM Sitharaman says its her duty to appeal

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday indicated the governments intent to appeal against an arbitration panel asking India to return USD 1.4 billion to UKs Cairn Energy Plc, saying it is her duty to appeal in cases where the nations...

Pope Francis lands in Baghdad on first-ever papal visit

Pope Francis landed in Baghdad on Friday to start an historic four-day visit to Iraq, the first ever papal visit to the country.Franciss plane touched down at Baghdad International Airport, Reuters reporters said. ...

Give Feedback