Scott Morrison fires back at Google’s ‘blackmail’ warning that it will remove search functions Down Under if forced to pay for media content – saying ‘Australians don’t respond to threats’
- Scott Morrison has fired back at Google after it said it would ditch search bar
- Australian government wants to pass a new law to force Google to pay for news
- Google has threatened to leave the Australian market if the code goes ahead
Speaking after the National Cabinet meeting on Friday the Prime Minister said that Google would have to play by Australia’s rules.
The tech giant has threatened to disable its search engine in Australia if new media laws are passed.
‘Let me be clear. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our parliament. It’s done by our government.’ Mr Morrison said.
‘And that’s how things work here in Australia. And people who want to work with that, in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.’
The PM said on Friday Australia ‘does not respond to threats’ after search giant Google threatened to remove its search function from Australia
The federal government has introduced a world-first law to make Google and Facebook pay news organisations for their content
The PM’s stoush with Google has been prompted after the company threatened to remove its search function in Australia if rules requiring news organisations to be compensated for content is passed.
The proposed law, introduced to the Australian Parliament in December, will force Facebook and Google to negotiate fees with news companies whose stories appear on their platforms.
Under the world-first code, if a negotiation breaks down then an independent umpire will step in and decide the fee based on a ‘final offer’ method, which chooses one side’s position as the resolution.
Google and Facebook are fighting the code, claiming it is ‘unworkable’ and poses an existential threat to their business models.
Australia’s battle with Big Tech is being keenly watched by governments across the world, not least in London, Washington and Brussels, where concerns have been raised over the ‘advertising duopoly’ of Google and Facebook.
Pictured is the Melbourne office of Google. The company has threatened to pull its search function from Australia
Australian regulators found that for every $100 spent on digital advertising, $53 goes to Google, $28 to Facebook and only $19 goes to others.
Google turns over $4.9billion in Australia, with $4.3billion of that from advertising – while many Australian publishers are struggling to make money. The company only paid $59million in Australian corporate tax last year.
In a hostile public hearing before senators on Friday, Mel Silva, the Managing Director of Google and New Zealand, said Google may be forced to pull its search function out of Australia if the code goes ahead.
‘The principle of unrestricted linking between web sites is fundamental to search and, 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,’ she said.
‘That would be a bad outcome for us but also for the Australian people, media diversity and the small businesses who use our products every day.’
What is the bargaining code and why is it needed?
WHY IS IT NEEDED?
Google and Facebook derive a benefit from the ability to make Australian news content available to their users.
Australian news businesses have had to accept commercial deals with the platforms that are less favourable than they would otherwise agree to.
Intervention is needed to address this imbalance because of the public benefit of news and the importance of a strong independent media in a well-functioning democracy.
For every $100 spend on advertising, $53 goes to Google, $28 goes to Facebook and $19 goes to other media.
WHAT IS THE CODE?
The government wants good faith commercial deals to be struck outside the code.
But if the platforms and news organisations are unable or unwilling to reach an agreement ‘final offer arbitration’ will take place.
The arbiters will take into account the benefits traditional news media businesses get by having eyeballs on their product.
The digital platforms will also need to adhere to a series of minimum standards.
WHO IS INCLUDED?
* Facebook and Google.
* ABC, SBS and Australian commercial news media organisations.