Google threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia if a new law comes into effect



Google threatened the Australian authorities to withdraw its search engine from that country, in the face of the eventual realization of a bill aimed at forcing Alphabet's main brand to pay the media to make use of its news content.

This controversy is part of an initiative of the Australian Government that through a "binding code of conduct" seeks to govern relations between large Internet companies and the media. Among those referred to by this measure, they stand out for the volume of advertising – and therefore revenue – handled by Facebook and Google, the latter company is the one that has hit the table the hardest.

This new Australian law would force companies like Google to pay news publishers to display their content. This text, still pending, is one of the most restrictive laws in the world in this area. Examples of this are the penalties provided for cases of infringement thereof, which provide for fines of millions of dollars.

Particularly in the case of Facebook, these restrictions allude to its "current affairs thread", while as far as Google is concerned, directly affected would be the results thrown by its search engine.

Google Search threatened to be removed in Australia over media bargaining code (smh.com.au)

Google threatened to leave Australia

Google Australia CEO Mel Silva appeared this day in front of a Senate committee. In that instance, it noted that the worst possible scenario for its represented company would be for the draft legal text to be approved as is. In the event of such an eventuality, his company would be obliged to suspend its search services in Australia, as stated by the executive.

This position has already had an impact on the local press, an instance used by the search engine company to amplify its message and reiterate that what was requested by the Australian authorities is incompatible with the business model of any search engine.

Relevant characters of the medium have not been subtracted from commenting on this episode, such as the creator of the WWW, Tim-Berners Lee, who pointed out that measures like this go against the original spirit of the website, by demanding payment for the linkage of certain content.



Why Australian legal initiative

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the body responsible for drafting this controversial bill, justifies its initiative on the assumption that the proposed law arises amid a context marked by "a significant imbalance in the power of negotiation between Australian media companies and companies such as Google and Facebook."

This eventual "binding code of conduct" proposed by Australia, oriented to the media, follows in the footsteps of a 2019 investigation in the ocean country. This cadastre revealed that the company behind the great Internet search engine was hoarding a large and disproportionate share of the revenue from online advertising, even though much of its content did not come from its own sources, but since the formerly alluded to media.

Today, the media industry is going through a major crisis in Australia. The causes are based on a drop-in advertising warning revenue, while the consequences are patented in the mass layoffs of journalists and even the closure of some means because of these economic difficulties.

News Corp to suspend print editions of 60 local newspapers as advertising revenue slumps | Australian media | The Guardian

Alternatively, Google proposes the implementation of the News Initiative program in Australia, which includes a monetization system for the media. So far, however, the competent Australian authorities have not regarded it as a real solution.

For its part, Facebook also threatened to withdraw its news service if this law came into effect. However, the consequences of this measure would not be of the same impact as in the case of Google, since it would only be a partial blackout, a service that is not part of the backbone of that social network.

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