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Google Says It Could Pull Out of Australia Over News Media Law

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The Australian government, for the past year, has been pushing for legislation that would force tech companies to pay local content creators for the contents that appear on their various platforms.

Search engine bigwig, Google, has issued a threat in response to the proposed law. The tech giant says it would pull its search engine from Australia, if the proposed law is passed.

In an official statement by Google, VP of Google Australia and New Zealand, Meg Silva, told Australia’s Senate Economics Legislation Committee that:

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.”

We have had to conclude after looking at the legislation in detail. We do not see a way, with the financial and operational risks, that we could continue to offer a service in Australia,” she added.

According to the proposed News Media Bargaining Code by Australia, Google would pay local publishers between AU$600 million to $1 billion a year ($465 million to $775 million) when Search results include links and snippets to their news sites.

Google News, According to reports, would also be affected by this law, since aggregation is also the entire point of that app.

Although, Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) suggested in August that the law shouldn’t affect Google’s search business, however, Google does not seem to agree with the clause.

Google will not be required to charge Australians for the use of its free services such as Google Search and YouTube, unless it chooses to do so,” ACCC noted.

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According to a blog post released on Google’s official blog, Google explains that it would rather pay publishers specifically for its Google News product.

Google had made an announcement in June, about a program that would pay publishers in Australia, Germany and Brazil, for their contents.

The whole issue started in 2019, after ACCC released a voluntary code to bring parity between media organizations and tech companies such as Google and Facebook.

This came after the Australian government found that tech companies are taking a large share of online advertising revenue, even though most of their contents come from media organizations.

According to a report by The Guardian, over a hundred local newspapers in Australia have had to downsize, leaving many journalists without a job.

Others newspapers have either shut down or stopped printing as advertising revenue has fallen.

Last year, the Australian government, ordered for the voluntary clause to be reviewed, making it a mandatory code.

Responding to Google’s threat to leave the country, Australia’s Prime Minister said in a statement that:

Let me be clear. Australia makes its 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.

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