Google said that it will disable its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a media code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay local media companies for sharing their content.
The code requires Google and Facebook to enter mandatory arbitration with media companies if they cannot reach an agreement over the value of their content within three months.
It also requires the platforms to give the news businesses 14 days’ notice of algorithm changes, and non-discrimination provisions have been put in place to stop the tech giants from taking retaliatory action such as removing content or punishing organisations that participate in the code.
Mel Silva, Google Australia and New Zealand VP told Australia’s Senate Economics Legislation Committee today that Google would shut off the search in Australia if the government’s proposed media bargaining code becomes law. According to her, “The code’s arbitration model with bias criteria presents an unmanageable financial and operational risk for Google”
Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found Alphabet Inc-owned 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.
Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison said Australia would not respond to the threats as news media companies fired back at suggestions their content did not add value to the platforms. “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,” he said. “People who want to work with that, in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.”
What you should know
- Google’s threats follow similar remarks made by Facebook Australia’s managing director, Will Easton in September, who announced plans to remove news articles from the social media’s main app if the media code is passed by Parliament.
- To avoid the operation of the code, Google and Facebook have no option but to cease linking to news altogether. If Google can’t reliably separate news results from other search results, then logically it may have to pull its entire search service from Australia.
- 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.
- This new media code will affect millions of Australians who use Google Search and Facebook every month.