Google threatens to disable Search in Australia over a new code

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A new legislation, though, not yet passed, is the subject of controversy between Google and the Australian government. If the new legislation is passed into law, Google may have to start paying publishers in Australia; something the search engine giant does not want to do. In its response, the search engine giant has threatened to disable its Search service in the country should the new code come into effect.

In July 2020, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) drafted the News Media Bargaining Code. According to the code, digital media would be required to pay media organizations for the content they show in their search results. The code was proposed by the Australian government who felt that Google and Facebook had too much power in the media industry.

Speaking to the Senate committee in charge of the matter, Google’s Managing Director in Australia Mel Silva said:

“The ability to link freely between websites is fundamental to Search. This code creates an unreasonable and unmanageable financial and operational risk to our business. If the Code were to become law in its current form, we would have no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”

In trying to present its own side of the story to the general public, Google took to its official blog to explain further. The company said while it has nothing against a code, how it goes about supporting it matters.

“We’ve been clear that we don’t oppose a Code, nor are we opposed to supporting journalism––but how we do that matters. The current version of this law remains unworkable for Google, but we believe that the concerns we and others have raised can be addressed with reasonable changes. We have proposed a solution that would see Google pay publishers for value under this new law––without breaking Google Search.” 

Google’s response threatening to disable Search in the country has however, not gone down well with the government. Per Reuters, the Prime Minister of Australia has responded by issuing a short statement:

“We don’t respond to threats. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia.”

With both sides flexing muscles, it is not yet clear at this time where this is heading. One thing is clear though, the end users are going to be at the receiving end of the rising tension between the two parties.

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Author: Ola Ric

Ola Ric is a professional tech writer. He has written and provided tons of published articles for professionals and private individuals. He is also a social commentator and analyst, with relevant experience in the use of social media services.

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