Sydney: Google said on Friday it would disable its search functionality in Australia if the government enforces a media code that forces it and Facebook to pay local media companies to share their content.
Australia is on the way to pass laws that would have the big tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content. If they cannot close a deal, the government appointed arbitrator will decide the price.
“The code’s arbitration model with bias criteria represents an uncontrollable financial and operational risk for Google,” Mel Silva, managing director of Australia and New Zealand, told the Senate committee.
“If this version of the code becomes legal, it will give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search Australia available.”
Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation concluded that Alphabet Inc-owned Google and social media giant Facebook had significant market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.
This week, the US government asked Australia to revoke the proposed laws, which have broad political support, and suggested that Australia follow a voluntary law instead.
Google’s threat to limit its services in Australia came just hours after the internet giant struck a content-push deal with some French news publishers.
Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute for Responsible Technology Center, said Google certification “is part of a pattern of threatening behavior that intimidates anyone who values our democracy.”