Skip to main content

Google says it will withdraw Search from Australia if new media code becomes law

Google "G" logo
Google "G" logo (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is threatening to stop making Search available in Australia.
  • Google argues that Australia's proposed News Media Bargaining Code would hurt small businesses, small publishers, and millions of Australian users if it became law.
  • It has proposed technical amendments to the media code, which will allow it to pay publishers for value, without breaking Search.

Google has threatened to remove its search engine from Australia if the country's proposed News Media Bargaining Code becomes a law. The search giant's biggest problem with the proposed law is that it will be required to pay for links and snippets in Search. Google says the provision "would set an untenable precedent" for its business and that it is "not compatible with how search engines work."

In her opening statement to the Senate Economics Committee Inquiry, Mel Silva, Vice President of Google Australia and New Zealand, said:

The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to Search. Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.That would be a bad outcome not just for us, but for the Australian people, media diversity and small businesses who use Google Search.

Google has proposed technical amendments in three areas to address the problems that it has with the proposed law. The company says these amendments will allow it to pay publishers for value, without breaking Google Search.

Instead of paying for links and snippets, Google proposes the Code designate News Showcase to allow it to pay Australian news publications for value. The News Showcase program was launched last year and pays news publishers for their content in curating panels of news that appears on Google services. The search giant has already reached News Showcase agreements with seven publishers in Australia.

Responding to Google's threat, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison told reporters:

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.

Babu Mohan
Babu Mohan
5 Comments
  • And Big Tech wonders why governments want to break them up.
  • "Facebook has also threatened to block news from its feed" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Good.
  • Quite the posturing move... It's a weird situation... I don't like megacorps throwing their weight around to get elected governments to capitulate... But in this particular instance, I feel Google is in the right. Also it's hard to take a government seriously when their leader says things like "The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia". :/
  • So again, another country wants Google to pay sites to send them traffic. I just don't get it. It's a free site, there's search competition (anyone can use any search engine). Why should Google agree to pay sites to send users traffic to their site? It seems backwards. Snippets are another story. Using data from a website to display to users is different than listing links to sites. There probably has to be some equitable way to pay sites where snippets are displayed, at least in some circumstances.
  • Don't know what County you're in, but Google charges for and places Priority Paid Content in among its top serches. It's not "free." they conceded and stated annotating Paid Content, but still places it, among top relevant content. It's algorithms bebefit from the delivery of the most popular content, and assigning relevance. So content that more People, seem to gravitate towards, Google shows at the top, while also injecting Paid Content. The ones that don't pay, because they are more trusted, accurate, etc..., don't get anything, while Google actually reapts the financial benefit, of having some Advertising/Paid Results, peppered in, among accuarelly, Popular/Trusted Sources. Google should pay, because the Content Creators don't get any of the 💵, that Google reaps, based on their ability to salt sometime utter rubbish, Paid/sponsored Content, among real, legitimately good results, which nets them $Billions...