According to Bloomberg, Google said on Friday that if the Australian government introduces media regulations that force Google and Facebook to pay for sharing news content from local publishers, Google News Search in Australia will be discontinued.
Just a few hours ago, Google reached content payment agreements with some French news publishers.
Australia is working on a law that will enable large technology giants to negotiate with local publishers and broadcasters on the fees paid for sharing news content.
If no agreement can be reached between them, the price will be determined by the arbitrator appointed by the government.
Mel Silva, managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, told the Senate Committee at a parliamentary hearing on Friday: “The arbitration model with bias standards poses uncontrollable financial and operational risks to Google.
If this version of the Code becomes law, it will leave us with no choice but to stop providing Google search in Australia.” She also said that she was very opposed to Google’s payment to media companies for displaying fragments of articles in search results.
Google’s tough stance drew condemnation from Australian lawmakers, and Australian Senator Andrew Bragg accused Google of trying to “blackmail” Australians and policymakers.
Peter Lewis, director of the Australian Institute’s Responsible Technology Center, said that Google’s testimony was “part of a threatening act that chills those who value our democracy.”
Facebook, another company targeted by proposed legislation in Australia, also opposed the proposed law and reiterated at a hearing on Friday that it was considering that if the law was passed, it would prevent Australians from sharing news on Facebook.
Bloomberg said that Facebook’s move was warning other countries by threatening Australia.
In response to the threats made by Google and Facebook, Australian Prime Minister Morrison said Friday: “With no response to threats, Australia has rules for what you can do in Australia, which is done in our parliament.
This is done by our government, and that’s how it works in Australia.”
According to the local competition regulator in Australia, at least 94% of online searches in Australia are conducted through the division of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.
Australia found that Alphabet’s Google and social media giant Facebook have too much in the media industry.
After multi-market forces, it was announced last month that it would push the legislation forward.
As tensions between Australia and Google and Facebook escalate, the U.S. government this week said that it demanded that Australia repeal the proposed law, which has gained broad political support, and that Australia follow a voluntary code instead.