Google has threatened to remove its search engine from Australia if the country’s proposed News Media Bargaining Code becomes a law. The search giant’s biggest problem with the proposed law is that it will be required to pay for links and snippets in Search. Google says the provision “would set an untenable precedent” for its business and that it is “not compatible with how search engines work.”
In her opening statement to the Senate Economics Committee Inquiry, Mel Silva, Vice President of Google Australia and New Zealand, said:
The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to Search. 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.
That would be a bad outcome not just for us, but for the Australian people, media diversity and small businesses who use Google Search.
Google has proposed technical amendments in three areas to address the problems that it has with the proposed law. The company says these amendments will allow it to pay publishers for value, without breaking Google Search.
Instead of paying for links and snippets, Google proposes the Code designate News Showcase to allow it to pay Australian news publications for value. The News Showcase program was launched last year and pays news publishers for their content in curating panels of news that appears on Google services. The search giant has already reached News Showcase agreements with seven publishers in Australia.
Responding to Google’s threat, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison told reporters:
We don’t respond to threats. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia.
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