Google threatens to shut down Australia from search engine because of media law

If Australia introduces the proposed new media law, Google will shut down the search engine for all residents. This threatens the American Internet giant because of the section that stipulates that Google and other tech companies will have to pay newspapers, news websites and other news media for content.

The bill is intended to help news publishers who are struggling financially with the online revenue model. Google says it goes against โ€œthe principle of free linking between websitesโ€.

Previously, Facebook has also strongly criticised the proposal. The company said that when introduced, Australians will no longer be able to access news content on the platform.

โ€œWere not going into threats.โ€

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says hes not impressed with Googles ultimatum. โ€œLet it be clear: Australia makes the rules about what you can do here. That is being done in parliament and we are not going into threats.โ€

It is striking that the US tech company is putting so pressure on the Australian government. Google is also fighting against similar legislation in other countries, but news site Bloomberg notes that it did not threaten to shut down the search engine completely.

Agreements in France

French news publishers reached an agreement with Google yesterday. As the first country in Europe, the search engine will pay a fee for displaying news articles in search queries, writes news site France24.

Previously, Google had refused this and blocked the search results for European news media in France. But a high French court forced the tech company to continue negotiations with the publishers on the basis of European legislation.

Also in Australia, Google is under pressure to accommodate news publishers. โ€œThe Australian government was the first worldwide to legally decree that Google has a financial obligation to the media here. It is a pioneering role that is embraced. You can see that in Morrisons fierce reaction todayโ€, says correspondent Eva Gabeler.

Billions turnover

About 94 percent of all searches in Australia are via Google, reports the Australian regulator. It is estimated that 19 out of over 25 million Australians use the search engine every day. According to the company, last year in Australia, it had a turnover of 3.1 billion euros.

Some 17 million Australians log in to Facebook every month. The company achieved a turnover of 427 million euros in advertisements there in 2019.

News sites, newspapers and TV stations believe they are entitled to a fee because their articles and videos generate revenue for the two tech giants. But they mean that the media already benefit from the extra visitors on their site.

Bangmaker

With the threat, Google is acting like a corporate bully, says a media professor from Melbourne University to Bloomberg. โ€œIts all about control and power. They let other regulators know that they can expect a fight if they pass on laws like this.โ€

The vote on the media law is expected within a few months. If it comes through, Google and Facebook will have to make a deal with publishers. If the negotiating parties fail to work together, compulsory mediation will follow.