Australia will soon pass a law requiring Google to pay royalties to media outlets that publish the content it shares on its network, but the tech giant intimidated users with the possibility of charging or impairing the free services it provides.
Alphabet Inc., said it would block its search engine if the government goes ahead with that provision, which also forces Facebook Inc. to pay, according to Market Screener, on Jan. 22.
“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,” Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a Senate committee.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that it is the country that sets its rules for “things you can do in Australia.”
“People who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats,” Morrison told reporters.
Similarly, the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, who has overseen the new rules, recalled, “There’s always brinkmanship in serious negotiations.”
And he added, “They talk of commercial deals where they’re in full control of the deal. In my view that’s not a commercial deal.”
“The draft code will allow Australian news businesses to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists’ work that is included on Google services,” said Sims, according to News.
“This will address a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook,” he added.
Alphabet Inc. does not disclose its sales from Australia, but, in fact, search ads represent its main revenues and profits globally.
The Australian government concluded, after an investigation, that tech giants hold a level of power that poses a potential threat to the proper functioning of democracy.
For the director of the Australian Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology, Peter Lewis, Google’s attitude “is part of a pattern of threatening behavior that is chilling to anyone who values our democracy,” according to Market Screener.
The tech giants increasingly tighten censorship according to their arbitrary standards, but always with a definite radical left-wing bias.
The impact of censorship is becoming detrimental to the freedom of expression around the world, as evidenced by the cancellation of the account of former President Donald Trump and many of his followers.
Thus, the outcome of Google’s confrontation with the Australian government could set a precedent in the controls that could be applied to its excessive power.