Google on Friday threatened to make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the government went ahead with plans to make tech giants like Google pay for news content.
The mandatory code of conduct proposed by the Australian parliament aims to make Google and Facebook pay Australian media companies fairly for using news content they get from news sites.
Mel Silva, the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, told a Friday, January 22 Senate inquiry into the bill that the new rules would be unworkable.
“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,” Silva told senators. “And that would be a bad outcome not only for us, but also for the Australian people, media diversity, and the small businesses who use our products every day.”
Silva said it was willing to pay a group of news publishers for the value they added, but not under the rules as proposed, which included payments for links and snippets.
She said the code’s “biased arbitration model” also posed unmanageable financial and operational risks for Google.
“We feel there is a workable path forward,” Silva said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, responding to the threat to leave the country, said “we don’t respond to threats.”
“Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia,” Morrison told reporters in Brisbane.
“That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia.”
95% of searches in Australia are done through Google.
Asked by one senator how much tax it pays, Silva said last year it paid about 59 million Australian dollars ($46 million) on revenues of AU$4.8 billion ($3.7 billion).