Google Threatens to Pull its Search Engine from Australia
Google threatened to pull its search engine from Australia if the nation passes a law requiring the company to negotiate payment terms with local publishers to access their content. Melanie Silva, MD for Australia and New Zealand, told a Senate committee reviewing the plan Google would have no real choice but to pull its search services if it became law.
Google published Silva’s comments in a blog. She stated the current proposal presents unmanageable financial and operational risk for the company, and pressed for an approach which allowed it to pay publishers without withdrawing its search services. Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology, said in a blog that the comments are part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values democracy. Lewis noted the threat follows a secret and cynical experiment on Google users in recent weeks, where news had been withdrawn from its services without warning.
The government’s proposal is designed to ensure digital platforms agree to fair payment for accessing local news content. The US government called for Australia to drop the move and adopt a voluntary code of conduct. In a submission last week, Google argued the planned code would require it to pay all registered news businesses for merely having a link to their news content in search. The company said that such a requirement would destroy the business model of any search engine.