Google is threatening to stop offering its search engine in Australia. This is due to a new law that charges Google for links to news articles. Do the Australian government and tech companies find a middle ground?
Google Search in Australia
“Hmmm, I’m not sure, I have to ‘binge’ that for you”, that is perhaps what Australians will say when Google continues its threats in Australia. The company would remove its search engine from the country if Australia passes a new law that could cost the tech company a lot of money.
This is the so-called ‘News Media Bargaining Code’. Every time a user of Google’s search engine taps a link that leads to an Australian news site, Google would have to pay a flat fee. “If this version of the Code became law, we would have no choice but to pull Google Search out of Australia,” Google’s local vice president Mel Silva told The Sidney Morning Herald.
‘Undermines the web’
According to Google, the law puts too much pressure on its business model and is incompatible with the way search engines work. Google is not the only one who thinks so, because the company is supported by a famous name: Tim Berners-Lee, or one of the founders of the World Wide Web. “The Code can undermine one of the web’s fundamental principles by charging money when you link between content online,” he said in a statement to the Australian government.
Still, Australia is determined to put the law into effect. The law comes from the ACCC, which is the country’s trade watchdog. “It is Australia that sets the rules for what is allowed in Australia, and it is our parliament that decides that,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “Those willing to work in Australia within this framework are welcome. But we do not bow to threats.”
Not extensive enough
The ACCC is also looking at Facebook and the way users link to news on the platform, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s company is also dismissive of the new law. That says the company in a blog post.
As is the case in many other countries, the Australian media sector is suffering from declining ad revenue, and the corona crisis has only exacerbated that problem. Google has already set up a program that pays for media in Australia, Germany, Brazil and – recently – France. Yet that effort is not far-reaching enough according to the country.