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Google says it will remove the search feature in Australia if the media code becomes law

The Google search app is visible on the iPhone on September 5, 2018.

Jaap Jurriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Google’s Alphabet said Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government continued with a new code that would force it and Facebook to pay media companies for the right to use their content.

The Google threat is escalating a battle with publishers such as News Corp., which is being closely monitored around the world. The search giant has warned that its 1

9 million Australian users will face a deteriorating search and experience on YouTube if the new code is implemented.

Australia is on track to pass laws to force technology giants to negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or newscasts. If they cannot make a deal, an arbitrator appointed by the government will decide the price.

“Together with the unmanageable financial and operational risk, if this version of the code becomes law, it will not give us a real choice but to stop accessing Google Search in Australia,” said Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand. senate committee.

Silva does not mention YouTube in the prepared notes.

Google’s comments have drawn sharp criticism from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said the country sets its own rules for “the things you can do in Australia”.

“People who want to work with this in Australia are welcome. But we are not responding to threats,” Morrison told reporters.

Google called the code too broad and said that without revisions, offering even a limited search tool would be too risky. The company does not disclose sales from Australia, but search ads have the largest contribution to revenue and profits worldwide.

The United States government this week asked Australia to repeal proposed laws that have broad political support, and suggested that Australia follow a voluntary code instead.

Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found that Google and social media giant Facebook had too much market power in the media industry, which it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.

Google’s threat to limit its services in Australia came hours after the internet giant struck a deal to pay for content with some French news publishers as part of a three-year $ 1.3 billion publisher support campaign.

Google’s testimony “is part of a pattern of threatening behavior that is chilling for anyone who values ​​our democracy,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Center for Responsible Technology at the Australian Institute.

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