Could Google Stop Making Search Available in Australia?

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Could Google stop making search available in Australia?

Could Google stop making search available in Australia?

Many were, suppose, disappointed with Google when they confessed to blocking most Australian news sites from the SERPs a week ago.

However, the country may confront even more heartbreak as the tech giant threatens to pull Australia from the search engine altogether.

The Story so far

A week ago, Matt Southern revealed that Google is running a trial that basically just shows 1% of Australian reports.

This was viewed as the company flexing their muscles because of the country endeavoring to force a world-first law – the News Media Bargaining Code – that would constrain both Google and Facebook to share royalties with news publishers.

Google’s Response and the Impact on Australian News

In a Senate hearing that occurred on Friday, Mel Silva, Google Australia’s Managing Director, considered the law that would compel them to pay for the news content they use “unworkable,” expressing that:

“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.”

Whether this incorporates all Google services, such as Gmail and the like, is currently unclear.

She additionally stated:

“We do not see a way, with the financial and operational risks, that we could continue to offer a service in Australia.”

With 75% of advertising income declining for Australian newsprint since 2005, Google’s remarks on withdrawing them from the SERPs comes as an extra blow, as Google is the dominant search engine with little market competition.

It Isn’t Just Google

While a lot of the focus has been on Google’s response to the News Media Bargaining Code, Facebook has made a threat of its own.

In a similar Senate hearing Ms. Silva joined in, the social platform pledged to impede Australian-based users from posting and sharing news links should the bill be passed, expressing that there is no business advantage to them displaying this kind of content.

Both tech giants argue that they are offering a service to the media business through reference traffic and that the new law would cause operational and financial risk of unmanageable proportions.

Is It Really About Sharing Royalties?

While Google was using its threats to Australia, it was also finishing an agreement with France to negotiate license agreements on an individual basis for general and political data.

For this situation, Google has a level of control over what they pay these publishers dependent on established metrics such as audience size and publication volume.

If a dispute happens, it could require a very long time to be settled in court, postponing any payments being made.

While for Australia’s situation, if an arrangement can’t be reached on how much news content is worth, the decision would arrive on a free assertion body.

It could be seen that Google is more worried about losing control over who settles on these financial decisions as opposed to paying news publishers a reasonable pay for giving them access to the most recent news.

The main architect of the code expressed that:

“Indeed, discussions we are aware of have focused on paying upfront lump sum amounts, not per click.”

Which further backs up the hypothesis that Google wants to dictate how much they pay dependent on measurable metrics?

Summary

As there has been no goal to the contention at this point, obviously Australia, and any other countries that attempt to make similar demands, may have to set themselves up for a world without access to Google and Facebook.

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References

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-55760673

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/22/business/australia-google-facebook-news-media.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes

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