Google May Be Finished Down Under

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Talk about a low blow.

Google has threatened to pull the plug on its Australian search engine if the Aussie government moves forward with a proposal to force it (and its big tech brethren) to pay for content that appears in its search results.

Groundbreaking Proposal

Like all squabbles involving Google – this battle comes down to power and large sums of money.

The Australian situation concerns so-called news “snippets,” where short-form excerpts appear in search engine results. Many readers get their news from these feeds rather than clicking through to the news organizations’ own websites.

The Proposal: The Australian government has drafted legislation that would force Google and Facebook to pay for content created by media companies and shared on the platforms. If the tech platforms cannot agree on compensation, the code would require binding arbitration.

The Reaction: Google Australia managing director Mel Silva said in an open letter, “This code creates an unreasonable and unmanageable financial and operational risk to our business…if the code were to become law in its current form, we would have no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”

  • The threat is not Google’s first heavy-handed tactic. Recently, Google buried news articles from major publishers in its search results in what it called “an experiment.”

Following a worldwide trend, Facebook and Google have come to dominate advertising in Australia. The two tech giants capture 71% of ad spend in Australia.

The World Is Watching: Many believe the precedent set in Europe could take hold across the world.