Google threatens to block search in Australia if country passes new law

Google and Facebook officials call the new code ‘unworkable”’ as PM Scott Morrison hits back at the company for its threat to pull out

Google has threatened to disable its search engine in Australia if a new law forcing it to pay local publishers for news is passed, leading to a standoff with prime minister Scott Morrison.

Australia is introducing a first of a kind law which would require tech companies like Google and Facebook to pay for the news content local publishers and broadcasters create. If the law is passed, the companies will have to negotiate payments with creators to be able to show news on their platform, including in search results or news feeds. If they cannot strike a deal, a government-appointed arbitrator will decide the price.

Digital platforms face fines of up to A$10m (£5.6m) if they do not comply with the decision.

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On Friday, Google Australia managing director Mel Silva told a Senate hearing that the new rules are “unworkable”, and the company was prepared to exit the Australian market if forced.

“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,” Ms Silva said.




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