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SYDNEY, Jan 22 (Globe Live Media) – Google, part of the Alphabet Inc group, said on Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government goes ahead with a new code that would force the group and Facebook to pay media companies in communication for the right to use its contents.
The threat from Google intensifies a battle with publishing groups like News Corp that is being closely watched around the world. The search giant had warned that its 19 million Australian users would face a degradation of searches and YouTube experience if the new code is applied.
Australia is on the verge of passing laws that would force tech giants to negotiate payments with publishers and local media for content included in search results or in the news. If they cannot reach an agreement, a government-appointed arbitrator will decide the price.
“If this version of the Code were to become law, we would have no choice but to stop offering Google searches in Australia,” Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a Senate committee.
Silva did not mention YouTube in the comments, as the video service is expected to be exempted under code reviews last month.
Google’s comments drew a harsh retort from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said the country sets its standards for “things that can be done in Australia.”
“People who want to work like this in Australia are very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats,” Morrison told reporters.
In the investigation, the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, who has overseen the new rules, said he could not predict what the tech giants would do, but claimed that “there are always extreme maneuvers in negotiations. serious “.
Google has called the code overly broad and has said that without reviews, it would be too risky to offer even a limited search tool. The company does not disclose its Australian turnover, but search ads are its biggest contribution to global revenue and profits.
The US government this week called on Australia to scrap the proposed laws, which have broad political support, and has suggested that the country adopt a voluntary code instead.
Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found that Google and social media giant Facebook had too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to the market. good functioning of democracy.
Google’s threat to limit its services in Australia came just hours after the internet giant struck a content payment deal with some French news publishers as part of a three-year, $ 1.3 billion initiative to support editors.
Google’s testimony “is part of a pattern of threatening behavior that is chilling to anyone who values our democracy,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Center for Responsible Technology at the Institute of Australia.
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