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Google threatens to withdraw search engine from Australia

Google threatens to withdraw search engine from Australia

January 22, 2021: Last week, Google confirmed blocking Australian news sites from its search results. It said it was an experiment to test the value of Australian news services. Australia is introducing a world-first law to make Google, Facebook, and other tech companies pay media outlets for their news content. But the US firms have fought back and warned the law would make them withdraw some of their services.

Mel Silva, Google Australia managing director, told a Senate on Friday that the laws are 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 said.

Lawmakers accused Google of “blackmail” and bullying Australia for raising the reform.

Mr. Morrison said his government is committed to progress the laws through parliament this year.

Google is the dominant search engine in Australia, and government describes it as a near-essential utility with little market competition.

The government has argued that the tech giants should pay newsrooms a “fair” amount for their journalism.

It has also argued that financial support is needed for its embattled news industry because a healthy media is vital to a democracy.

According to the government, Australian print media has seen a decline of 75% in advertising revenue since 2005.

Ms. Silva said the laws would set “an untenable precedent for our businesses and the digital economy” if the company had to pay for link and search results.

It was not compatible with the free-flowing share of information online or “how the internet works,” Silva argued.

Executive Simon Milner said Facebook derived almost no commercial benefit from having news content on its platform.

Australians have shown confusion and anger online at both sides over the proposal. Some have questioned whether the removal will also remove Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Home services.

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