Google on Friday threatened Australia that it will disable its search function if the Australian government proceeds with implementing the new law. This new law would force Google and Facebook to pay the local media companies for sharing their content and have it listed on Google’s search page.
The yet to be implemented law would force the search engine giant to pay local news publishers for their reported content for the first time in history. The law will also put Facebook in a never before a situation where it would have to pay the news and content publishers.
So far, the proposed law has received sharp disapproval from Google. In a Senate committee, Melanie Silva, who serves as Google’s Managing director for Australia and New Zealand, stated, “The code’s arbitration model with bias criteria presents an unmanageable financial and operational risk for Google.” Silva also added, “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.”
The Australian government however remains clear on its stance and has not shown a sign of budging so far. Australian PM Scott Morrison has said that the Australian government would not respond to Google’s threats.
Speaking to the media Morrison said, “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… People who want to work with that, in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.”
Google though however is prepared to not loosen its grip in the matter. Following Morrison’s statement, Melanie Silva spoke to the media and clearly stated that Google will not be made to operate given the financial and operational risk that would come with the proposed law.
“We have had to conclude after looking at the legislation in detail we do not see a way with the financial and operational risks, that we could continue to offer a service in Australia. This provision in the code would set an untenable precedent for our businesses and the digital economy. It’s not compatible with how search engines work or how the internet works,” said Google Australia & New Zealand MD Silva.
Meanwhile, Australian authorities are in dismay and Google is garnering severe condemnation from them. In one such instance, Peter Lewis who is the director of Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology said that Google’s behaviour and its testimony is “is part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values our democracy.”
The whole issue which has left Google and the Australian government on an impasse started a month ago. Last month, the Australian government announced the proposed law after an investigation found that Google and Facebook hold substantial market power in the news media industry. The Australian government stated that this situation can in the future pose a threat to the nation’s democracy.
While Google continues to fight the Australian government over the new law, the tech giant has shaken hands with the French authorities in a similar matter. Google has come to an agreement in which it will share revenue with French Alliance de la Presse d’Information Générale. The French Alliance de la Presse d’Information Générale is an organization that represents the rights of news publishers in France.
Sebastien Missoffe who serves as the Managing Director of Google France spoke to the media and said, “This agreement is a major step for Google. It confirms our commitment to press editors within the framework of the French law on neighboring rights. It opens up new perspectives for our partners, and we are happy to contribute to their development in the digital age and support journalism.”