Google said Friday that it would shut down searches in Australia if a proposed bill requiring the service to pay publishers for linking to their articles becomes law.
The proposed law would require tech companies to compensate media companies when their sites include links to news articles, the Wall Street Journal reported. Google and Facebook have opposed the law, arguing that the move is unnecessary because publishers already benefit from having links to their articles show up on the sites.
“If this version of the bill were to become law it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Mel Silva, Google Australia’s managing director, said according to the report. “That would be a bad outcome not just for us, but for the Australian people, media diversity and small businesses who use Google Search.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the government would not “respond to threats.” (RELATED: Google Has Not Explained What Led To A Glitch That Blocked Some Conservative Websites)
JUST IN: Google has threatened to block its search function in Australia if the government passes new media law that would force it to pay local media companies.
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) January 22, 2021
“Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia,” he said. “People who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.”
Facebook made a similar threat last year, saying that if the law went into effect Australian users would be restricted from posting links to news articles on its platforms. Simon Milner, the vice president of public policy at Facebook Asia-Pacific, said Friday that the company opposes the law because it would give publishers almost all of the control over compensation negotiations.
“Rather than increasing investment in news and journalism, it will have the opposite effect,” Milner told the parliamentary committee, according to the report. (RELATED: Google Admits It Has Run ‘Experiments’ To Hide News Sites From Consumers)
Tech companies have already made some deals with publishers to pay for content. Google made a recent agreement with a French publisher association related to how the company can negotiate with individual publishers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Silva suggested changing the law so that it would apply to Google’s new News Showcase instead of links in its search engine. News Showcase pays publishers to create story panels that appear in Google News. The company announced in October that they had signed partnerships for the new service with nearly 200 publications in Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the U.K. and Australia.