Google Threatens To Withdraw Search Engine From Australia
Google has been accused of ‘blackmail’ after threatening to withdraw its search engine from Australia over proposed new laws regulating Big Tech in the country.
Australian lawmakers are currently considering introducing legislation that would require major platforms like Google and Facebook to pay royalties to news publishers in order to share their content, a move which Google says would be ‘unworkable’ and an ‘untenable risk’ for the company, BBC News reports.
Speaking to a Senate hearing in Canberra earlier today, January 22, Google Australia managing director Mel Silva said that the proposed ‘news code’, which would require Big Tech companies to agree a ‘fair’ value with Australian news organisations for their content, ‘would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.’
Google is already blocked in a number of regions, such as China, however it’s believed that this is the first time the company has threatened to unilaterally withdraw its own services from an entire country.
It’s not clear exactly how search a block would be applied, whether it would also leave Australians unable to use other services such as Gmail and Google Maps, or if Australian websites would be still listed on Google in other countries.
Some Australian lawmakers have accused Google of trying to ‘bully’ the country into backing down, so as to prevent other countries from trying to enact similar measures regulating Big Tech.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison brushed off the threat from Google and confirmed that the government would continue to push forward the legislation, saying ‘Let me be clear: Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our parliament.’
Morrison’s government is arguing that Australia’s news industry, which has seen a 75% drop in advertising revenue thanks in large part to the growth of social media, should be given financial support from tech platforms who gain customers from people looking to read the news.
In response to the proposed laws, Google has also run a number of advertisements in its browsers urging Australians to oppose the measures. Facebook has also threatened action should the new laws be passed, saying that a ‘potential worse-case consequence’ could see the social media giant block Australian new sources from posting on the platform.
The dispute comes at a time when questions are increasingly being asked about the level of unregulated power held by Big Tech, with Google currently the subject of several anti-trust lawsuits accusing the company of monopolising the online search market.
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