Google threatened to pull its search engine from Australia if the nation passes a law requiring the company to negotiate payment terms with local publishers to access their content.
Melanie Silva, MD for Australia and New Zealand, told a Senate committee reviewing the plan Google would have “no real choice” but to pull its search services if it became law.
Google published Silva’s comments in a blog: she stated the current proposal presents “unmanageable financial and operational risk” for the company, and pressed for an approach which allowed it to pay publishers without withdrawing its search services.
In a blog, Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology said the comments are “part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values our democracy”.
Lewis noted the threat follows a “secret and cynical experiment” on Google users in recent weeks, where news had been withdrawn from its services without warning.
The government’s proposal is designed to ensure digital platforms agree to fair payment for accessing local news content.
Last week, the US government called for Australia to drop the move and adopt a voluntary code of conduct.
In a submission earlier this week, Google argued the planned code would require it to pay all registered news businesses for merely having a link to their news content in search: “Such a requirement would destroy the business model of any search engine”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back