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Google threatens to shut down search engine service in Australia

22 January 2021 | Abigail Opiah

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Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) has threatened to shut down its search engine in Australia if the country’s bill created to benefit the news media becomes law.

Australia is set to introduce a law to make social media and tech companies pay media outlets for their news content.

At a Senate hearing in Canberra on Friday, Mel Silva, VP, Google Australia & New Zealand said, “The Code remains unworkable and if it became law would hurt not just Google, but small publishers, small businesses, and the millions of Australians that use our services every day.

“There are three areas of concern which I will touch on shortly, but the most critical of these is the requirement to pay for links and snippets in Search.

“This provision in the Code would set an untenable precedent for our business and the digital economy. It’s not compatible with how search engines work, or how the internet works, and this is not just Google’s view - it has been cited in many of the submissions received by this Inquiry.”

The tech giant said paying for links and snippets undermines the basic principle of the internet.

In response to Google’s threat to disable its search engine in Australia if the media bargaining becomes law, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “Let me be clear. 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 and people who want to work with that in Australia, you're very welcome. But we don't respond to threats.”

Last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released submissions that hundreds of businesses, organisations, and individual Australians made in response to the first draft of the Code last year.

Google recently launched its 2020 Economic Impact Report and highlighted that it is providing businesses and its clients with a combined $53 billion in benefits every year.