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Google’s threat to wave goodbye heats up calls for regulation

  • January 25 2021
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Google’s threat to wave goodbye heats up calls for regulation

By Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
January 25 2021

With the war between Google and Australia now in danger of seeing the search engine giant depart our shores, not everyone is certain the government should back down, with one expert urging it to stand its ground and set an example for the world.

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Google’s threat to wave goodbye heats up calls for regulation

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  • January 25 2021
  • Share

With the war between Google and Australia now in danger of seeing the search engine giant depart our shores, not everyone is certain the government should back down, with one expert urging it to stand its ground and set an example for the world.

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Google is now threatening to remove its search engine from Australia if the country enacts a law that would force the likes of Google to pay news publishers for their content.

“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,” Google Australia and New Zealand VP Mel Silva told Australia’s Senate economics legislation committee on Friday.

According to Google, Australia’s requests are not “compatible with how search engines work”, as the government moved closer to enacting a law requiring Google to pay for links and snippets to news stories in Google searches, and not just for news articles featured in areas like Google News.

But while the likes of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, support Google’s stance wholeheartedly, others are turning their backs to the giant.

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Chris Cooper, executive director of Reset Australia, labelled Ms Silva’s words as “egregious threats”. He opined that while Google may have “the body of a behemoth”, it has “the brain of a brat”.

“When a private corporation tries to use its monopoly power to threaten and bully a sovereign nation, it’s a surefire sign that regulation is long overdue,” said Mr Cooper.

“Internet search is necessary for society and the economy. Google enjoys the enormous advantage of being a giant in the space, but thinks it can eschew the responsibility. That’s just not how things should work.”

Comparing Google to any other service provider, Mr Cooper made his beliefs adamantly clear, noting that the search engine must respect regulation.  

“Google runs a service that is enmeshed in the day-to-day running of society. Energy companies, transport companies, logistic enterprises – all are heavily regulated and respect that this is part of their licence to operate.”

Calling on the government to “stand firm” and set an example for governments around the world, he opined that “in democracies, it is the people who set the rules for corporations, not the other way around”.

The bill that seeks to legislate the News Media Bargaining Code – a framework to force digital platforms to pay media companies for news content – was introduced during the final sitting week of Parliament in 2020.

A vote on the highly contentious bill is expected early this year after the Senate committee charged with reviewing the proposed law delivers its report on 12 February.

Google’s threat to wave goodbye heats up calls for regulation
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About the author

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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of nestegg and Smart Property Investment. Email Maja at [email protected]

About the author

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of nestegg and Smart Property Investment. Email Maja at [email protected]

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