WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – Google threatened on Friday to make its search engine inaccessible in Australia if the government continued plans to get tech giants to pay for news content.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison quickly retaliated, saying “we are not responding to threats.”
“Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia,” Morrison told reporters in Brisbane. “It has been done in our parliament. It is done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia. ”
“If this version of the code were to be allowed, it would give us no choice but to stop making Google search available in Australia,” Silva told senators. “And that would be a bad result not only for us, but also for the Australian people, media diversity and the small businesses that use our products every day.”
The mandatory code of conduct proposed by the government aims to get Google and Facebook to pay Australian media companies fairly to use news content they suck from news sites.
Silva said they were willing to pay a broad and diverse group of news publishers for the value they added, but not under the proposed rules, which included payments for links and excerpts.
She said the code’s “biased arbitration model” also posed unmanageable financial and operational risks to Google. She suggested a number of adjustments to the bill.
“We feel there is a workable way forward,” Silva said.
As in many other countries, Google dominates internet searches in Australia. Silva told senators that about 95% of searches in the country are done through Google.
Asked by a senator how much tax it pays, Silva said last year that it paid around 59 million Australian dollars (46 million dollars) on a turnover of 4.8 billion dollars (3.7 billion dollars).
Facebook is also against the rules and has threatened to remove news stories from its site in Australia. Simon Milner, a vice president at Facebook, said the large amount of trades it would have to strike would be impossible.
The Australia Institute, an independent think tank, said lawmakers should stand firm against Google’s bullying.
“Google’s testimony today is part of a pattern of threatening behavior that is cool to anyone who values our democracy,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Institute’s Center for Responsible Technology.