Today, Google threatened the Australian authorities to withdraw its search engine from that country, due to the eventual materialization of a bill aimed at forcing Alphabet’s main brand to pay the media to make use of its news content.
This controversy is part of an initiative of the Australian Government that, through a binding code of conduct, seeks to govern relations between large Internet companies and the media. Among those alluded to by this measure, they stand out for the volume of advertising and, therefore, of income managed by Facebook and Google, this last company being the one that has hit the table the strongest.
This new Australian law will force companies like Google to pay news publishers to display their content. This text, still in process, is emerging as one of the most restrictive laws in the world on this matter. Proof of this are the penalties provided for infringement cases, which include fines of millions of dollars.
Particularly in the case of Facebook, these restrictions refer to its current thread, while as far as Google is concerned, those directly affected will be the results returned by its search engine.
Google threatened to leave Australia
Google Australia CEO Mel Silva appeared in front of a Senate committee this day. In that instance signal that the worst possible scenario for your represented company will be that the draft of the legal text is approved as is. Faced with this eventuality, your company will be forced to suspend its search services in Australia, according to what was declared by the executive.
This stance has already had repercussions on the local press, an instance used by the search engine’s company to amplify its message and reiterate that what is requested by the Australian authorities is incompatible with the business model of any search engine.
Relevant figures of the medium have not been subtracted from commenting on this episode, such as the same creator of the WWW, Tim-Berners Lee, who pointed out that measures like this go against the original spirit of the web, by demanding a payment for the linking of certain content.
The why of the Australian legal initiative
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the body in charge of drafting this controversial bill, justifies its initiative on the assumption that the proposed law arises in the midst of a context marked by a significant imbalance in bargaining power between Australian media companies and companies like Google and Facebook.
This eventual binding code of conduct proposed by Australia, aimed at the media, follows in the footsteps of an investigation that took place in 2019 in the oceanic country. This cadastre revealed that the company behind the great Internet search engine was monopolizing a large and disproportionate part of online advertising revenue, even though much of its content did not come from its own sources, but rather from the aforementioned media. communication.
Currently, the media industry is going through a strong crisis in Australia. The causes are based on a drop in income from advertising, while the consequences are patented in the massive dismissals of journalists and even the closure of some media due to these economic difficulties.
As an alternative, Google proposes the implementation of the program News Initiative in Australia, which envisages a monetization system for the media. However, so far the competent Australian authorities have not considered it as a real solution.
For its part, Facebook also threatened to withdraw its news service if this law came into force. However, the consequences of this measure would not have the same impact as in the case of Google, since it would only be a partial blackout, of a service that is not part of the backbone of that social network.