Google threatens to withdraw its search engine from Australia

January 28, 2021

This comes after Australia wanted to pass a law forcing Google to pay for news.

Australia is working on a new code of conduct that will force Google to pay for news it populates on its popular Google News platform. Sales of printed publications have gone down significantly since the start of global lockdowns, mainly because news can be accessed easily (and usually for free) on Google News.

The new Australian law will put an end to this practise. Google, on the other hand, has said that if the law is passed in Australia, they will withdraw their search engine in the country. The Australian Prime Minister retorted by saying that in Australia, they do not respond to threats.

Google seems to be concerned that if the Australian government does pass the new code of conduct and they are forced to pay for news, other countries will catch on, leaving Google with millions of dollars to pay publishers worldwide.

It seems that other tech companies are not immune against the new code. Facebook will reportedly  also be forced to pay for news on its platform if the new code is made into law. 

Google’s main argument is that as a search engine, it is not their responsibility to pay for news. They have said that end-users must be promoted to pay for news when they land on a page containing an article that they want to read. The other side of the coin is that publications that have free content rank higher on Google News and attract more users, for obvious reasons.

Google Australia has released an official statement on the topic, saying that the proposed code will “break the way the internet works”.

Whether Google can afford to ditch Australia entirely remains to be seen. Some critics have argued that this move would be frowned upon by governments and end-users and could damage Google’s reputation and popularity. Google is currently the biggest and most-used search engine in the world.