Australia is introducing a landmark law to make Google, Facebook and potentially other tech companies pay media outlets for their news content.
But the US tech giants have fought back. They’re arguing the laws are onerous and would damage local access to services.
What Google says
On Friday, Google told a Senate hearing the laws were “unworkable”.
“If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia”. Mel Silva, managing director of Google Australia said in a statement.
“We do not see a way, with the financial and operational risks, that we could continue to offer a service in Australia.”
Australian politicians are scheduling to debate the laws in parliament this year.
Google Search is currently the dominant search engine in Australia. The government describes it as a near-essential utility with little market competition.
The government has argued that the tech giants gain customers from people who want to read news from local publishers. Therefore, this means the tech giants should pay newsrooms a “fair” amount for their journalism.
Google’s threat to remove its primary product is its most severe yet. This is also a debate that many are closely watching globally. It comes amid increasing debate about regulating the power of big tech.
Ms Silva said the laws would set “an untenable precedent for our businesses”. She also adds that they were not compatible with the free-flowing share of information online or “how the internet works”.
Last week, after reports surfaced in local media, Google confirmed it was blocking Australian news sites in its search results for about 1% of local users. It said it was an experiment to test the value of Australian news services.
Facebook last year also threatened to stop Australian users from sharing news stories on the platform if the law went ahead.
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