Google threatens to pull search engine in Australia

Proposed media law unworkable in its current form, says managing director of Google Australia, New Zealand

Google threatens to pull search engine in Australia

Google on Friday threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia over controversy with Canberra on proposed media law. 

At the Senate hearing, managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand Mel Silva argued the proposed media law is unworkable in its current form and that, if the draft code became law, it would affect not only Google but small publishers, companies and millions of Australians who use its services every day. 

"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," Silva told the lawmakers, according to her statement.

She appeared before the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, which is reviewing the proposed new regulation, the News Media Bargaining Code, at a public hearing.

In April last year, Australia unveiled plans to force tech giants to pay news outlets for their content. 

On Tuesday, the US also asked Australia to step back from its proposed law against Facebook and Google. 

However, on Friday Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected Google’s threat and said: "Let me be clear, 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, and people who want to work with that, in Australia, you're very welcome," ABC News quoted Morrison as saying.  

Earlier, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that by introducing a mandatory code, Australia will be the first country in the world to mandate these social media giants to pay for their original news material. 

However, last September, Facebook threatened to stop users from posting news content in Australia if the draft code became law. 

According to the University of Canberra’s 2020 Digital News Report, 39% of Australians use Facebook for general news.